Obstructive sleep apnea affects 22 million Americans. When left untreated, it can cause vehicle and workplace accidents, worsening mood and memory, stroke, heart attack and even death.

Inspire is an FDA-approved obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) treatment option for people who cannot use Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy.

In June 2021, Drs. Monika Freiser, Christopher Roberts and Chadi Makary completed the first Inspire procedure at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center.

Army Veteran David Price to Veterans having trouble with CPAP machine: “Go for the Inspire system.”

OSA occurs when the airway collapses during sleep and blocks the flow of oxygen to the brain. The brain senses a lack of oxygen and wakes the body up just long enough to take a breath, then falls back asleep.

This cycle repeats throughout the night and causes poor, disruptive sleep.

Mild stimulation opens airways during sleep

Inspire works inside the body with a patient’s natural breathing process to treat sleep apnea. Mild stimulation opens the airway during sleep, allowing oxygen to flow naturally.

The patient uses a small handheld remote to turn Inspire on before bed and off when they wake up.

The Inspire system is implanted during a short, outpatient procedure. The system is placed under the skin of the neck and chest through two small incisions. Most patients return home the same day and take over-the-counter pain medications to manage pain as needed.

The safety and efficacy of Inspire was evaluated during the Stimulation Therapy for Apnea Reduction (STAR) clinical trial. Five-year STAR trial outcomes show patients using Inspire experience significant reductions in sleep apnea events and significant improvements in quality-of-life measures.

“A high level of patient satisfaction.”

There have been over 150 peer-reviewed publications on Inspire. These publications show results consistent with those seen in the STAR trial.

“We are excited to have completed the first Inspire procedure at the Louis A. Johnson VA and be the third hospital in West Virginia to offer this procedure,” said Barbara Forsha, Interim Medical Center Director.

“Inspire represents a significant advancement in treating sleep apnea. It is clinically proven to reduce sleep apnea events, has a high level of patient satisfaction, and a high therapy adherence.”

Army Veteran David Price was the first patient to receive Inspire at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center: “I get more rest,” he said. “It seems like I’m starting to feel better. When you don’t get a lot of rest, you don’t feel good all day.”

For the hesitant or those who don’t like traditional CPAP machines, Price would like all Veterans to know that, “If you are having trouble with your CPAP machine, then go for the Inspire system. It isn’t that hard to do and it doesn’t take that long to get.”

By Wesley R. Walls is chief of public affairs at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center

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Published on Aug. 13, 2021

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  1. Patrick Leeds September 2, 2021 at 6:46 pm

    I have been using a CPAP machine for probably twenty years and other than having the pressure adjustment increased, I have been very happy with the entire system. I started using one with my private PCP I used for about 35 years before filing and getting a disability from the VA. The switch went very well and even though have been well taken care of since switching. The inspire treatment sounds very usable. As my health continues to decline, I can see this would be extremely valuable when I’m unable to get water , change filters, and care for myself.

  2. Kevin Connelly August 19, 2021 at 5:53 pm

    Anita, If you don’t have a neurologist, then you should have a pulmonary doc that you follow up with regularly for your sleep apnea and CPAP usage. Next visit, request that referral from your pulmonologist. Good luck!

  3. Frank Alexander August 18, 2021 at 4:49 pm

    I am a 71-year-old US Navy Combat Veteran that was diagnosed with sleep apnea in 2016, although I’m sure I suffered with it unknowingly for a long time. Like most patients I was initially prescribed CPAP but could never tolerate it sufficiently to improve the quality of my sleep. One day I noticed an advertisement for Inspire on my Facebook news feed, investigated the procedure, and had the surgery in July of 2018. The rest, as they say, is history. My AHI went from 55+ pre-surgery to less than 5 afterwards. My sleep cycle is now extremely restful, and I am dreaming again for the first time in many years. This was absolutely a ‘life-changing’ event for me. Thank you Inspire for giving me my life back.

    I would be more than happy to share my experience with anyone interested.

  4. Anita Aguilar-Parks August 18, 2021 at 2:40 pm

    I have asked my primary care at my VA and she won’t even give me the referral to the sleep doctor for evaluation. This “gate keeper” system and mentality prevents Veterans from receiving health care from our own health care system that was created by for us/by us! I am 100% service connected ~ 60% is OSA! My CPAP is on recall for potential cancer causing fibers being sent to my lungs with every breath I take ~ and can’t even get evaluated for this safer solution. So who chooses who will get this ground breaking treatment? How do I get past the gate keeper?

    • Frank Alexander August 19, 2021 at 7:45 am

      Anita, I had mine done at the VA Medical Center in DC and received absolutely NO resistance from them. If your PCP won’t give you a referral try your Neurologist (sleep doctor) for a referral. That’s the approach I took. If that fails I would go to Patient Advocacy at your VA Hospital for help. Wishing you the best…

  5. Mike August 17, 2021 at 8:10 am

    Last I heard (as this has been around for awhile now), this only works on those with mild sleep apnea. Has this changed? How severe can the apnea be for this to still work?

  6. lesley pettit August 14, 2021 at 7:23 pm

    i would like to know more and interested in this

  7. Constance Williams August 13, 2021 at 7:19 pm

    I wanted. to know what material the patch is that goes into the neck and chest area? Also, how long can the patch remain before it has to be changed? What anesthesia is used to insert the patch? What have been some adverse issues that have occurred?

  8. Melinda August 13, 2021 at 5:02 pm

    Yup, I can just see it now. I request this at my VA and get told it’s a “last resort” because it’s too expensive and yet this guy can get it no problem. So how much does this cost, there was no mention of cost anywhere in this story. My doctors refuse to implant a tens type unit for my low back pain becausae “it’s too cost prohibitive”. Seems to me it has more to do with GENDER than anything like cost.

    • Frank Alexander August 18, 2021 at 6:11 pm

      I had mine implanted at a VA Medical Center. As long as you meet the surgical criteria there should not be any issues.

  9. Jerry Lenz August 13, 2021 at 5:01 pm

    I would like to learn more about this.

  10. Gordon Murphy August 13, 2021 at 4:42 pm

    I’ll do it, tell me how. Gordy

  11. Gordon Murphy August 13, 2021 at 4:39 pm

    Wow!! Never heard of it. Sounds like it’s just what I need. BYPAP / CPAP didn’t work go me. I am a veteran, do I qualify?

  12. Kenneth Mattonen August 13, 2021 at 4:33 pm

    I would like to receive the inspire treatment for my sleep apnea because of the issues with my CPAP machine.

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