NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Obstructive sleep apnea is a medical condition that causes the upper airway to collapse during sleep – in fact, 40,000 die from it each year. Breathing stops, or slows, so patients use a bulky and noisy CPAP machine for relief. Now there is a slimmer, and more natural alternative.

“Sleep apnea is also related to body weight. As body weight goes up, the throat gets increasingly collapsible at night, and it can become so collapsible that nothing else will help to keep it open besides a CPAP machine or significant weight loss,” explains Director of Sleep Surgery at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, David Kent, MD.

Some apnea sufferers are at normal weight, but dislike claustrophobic CPAPs attached to long, bulky hoses. Now there is new hope in an implanted device called the Genio that stimulates the nerves that help with breathing.

Dr. Kent further explains, “We’re actually providing a gentle pulse to the tongue nerves while a patient is asleep overnight to open up the airway by moving the tongue forward to unblock the airway to keep their throat from blocking up and to help, potentially, keep them from snoring as well.”

A single incision under the chin is made, the Genio is implanted inside and is activated by the patient before bed, allowing them to get a good night’s rest.

There’s no implanted power source, so there’s no battery changes down the road in the future. The genio is being clinically trialed at vanderbilt university and researchers believe it will be available for the public in 12 to 18 months.

Contributors to this news report include: Donna Parker, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer & Editor.

To receive a free weekly e-mail on medical breakthroughs from Ivanhoe, sign up at: