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Prospective randomized Pilot Study about the effect of orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT) for patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
Background Soft palate and tongue hypotonia promotes upper airway collapsibility during sleep in patients with obstructive sleep apnea. The aim of this study is to test if an intensive and specific orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT) can reduce the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) in patients with mild or moderate OSA.
Methods In this prospective controlled and randomized (under DRKS00015632 registered) pilot study, participants in the intervention group receive an intensive (3 times weekly) specific OMT program during six weeks. Participants in the control group train their orofacial muscles using chewing gum daily. The AHI is measured before and after therapy as well as 12 further weeks later by means of unattended home sleep apnea testing (UHSAT).
Results To date, 7 participants (average age: 63 yrs) have been included in this study. An improvement in average AHI from 18.6/h to 16.9/h was found after 6 weeks of therapy in the 3 participants of the intervention group. No significant change in average AHI was found in the control group (AHI 22/h and AHI 22.8/h). Two patients in each group were tested by UHSAT after further 12 weeks. The values of the intervention group were stable while the control group did not show any consistent trend.
Conclusion Preliminary data from this study support the hypothesis that an intensive specific OMT can reduce AHI in patients with mild or moderate OSA. More patients and longer follow-up are needed to provide robust data on long-term effectiveness of OMT.
Article published online:
10 June 2020
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