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Device to wake a client in the night to stimulate her oxygen intake

  • Ian D Midgley
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  • 5 comments

(posted by Susan Iwanek)

A client of the Gwent panel has made the following request to the panel, and panel chairman Roger Vaughan is asking for suggestions from anyone in the network who can help.

“I have Functional Neurological Disorder, and this affects the information sent between the brain and my nerves in both directions. One effect of this is I do not breathe out deeply enough, which leaves some carbon dioxide in my lungs for the next in-breath and makes my breathing shallow. As the body measures how much oxygen is in the body via the level of carbon dioxide, the high CO2 makes my body assume I have enough oxygen when I don’t, so unless I consciously breathe in and out deeply I get short on oxygen and absorb too much CO2 into my blood. In the day I can moderate this just fine but at night the shallow breathing means I wake up very sick, dizzy and exhausted unless someone wakes me up periodically when I am struggling for air. My husband currently stays up all night doing this, but I need care through the daytime as well and if he is awake all night he has to sleep through the day.

I need a device that can forcefully wake me up when my heart rate gets too low, indicating dangerous sickness, or else too high, indicating oxygen shortage. Any other measurement of low oxygen/high CO2 in the body would do just fine too, so long as it can wake me up. The malfunction of the nerve signals mean I don’t get woken up by low oxygen and the effects of my illness mean ordinary alarms etc. won’t wake me up reliably. A device such as a TENS machine, delivering a small impulse and confusing my nervous system, is the most obvious but anything up to and including squirting cold water on me or even jabbing me with a tack could work so long as it is tactile and stimulating enough to wake me up. Nothing of this type exists on the market or can be provided by the NHS.

Anyone with ideas on this interesting challenge should respond below.

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5 responses to “Device to wake a client in the night to stimulate her oxygen intake”

  1. Roger Vaughan says:

    Thanks gents for your ideas and suggestions, I also received the web site below which should be ideal for the lady to see if they have the solution to her particular problem. — Best wishes, RV
    http://www.sleep-apnoea-trust.org/

  2. Chris Dale says:

    Roger, similar to Andrew New’s suggestion, could something like this heart rate monitor from Amazon be used? See: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ultrasport-Run-50-Heart-Rate-Monitor/dp/B003XII70G/ref=pd_sim_sbs_sg_1 .
    The product description says it has alarm signals for when limits are exceeded or not reached. (That particular one is apparently out of stock but there are probably others available). My area of expertise is electronics and I think that if necessary, it may be possible to modify the device to bring out alarm signal connections which could be used to switch on some other alerting device such as a TENS device, or even a windscreen washer pump to squirt water. Alternatively, I have several vibration motors that came from Playstation game controllers. If one or two of these were suitably encased, perhaps they could be straped to an ankle etc. Let me know if I can be of help.

    Chris Dale, West Midlands Panel

  3. Harry Davis says:

    Has the client discussed or considered the effect of wearing a mask with a one way rewstricter in it. This could possibly be adjusted such that breathing in requires much more effort than breathing out. This would allow easy escape of the CO2 but then the body would register low lung content and demand in inhale which would need to be strong to overcome the restrictor.
    Maybe worth discussing with someone who understands the problem.
    This would have the possible advantage of not needing to wake the client.
    Good luck
    Best regards
    Harry Davis (Lancs NW)

  4. Andrew New says:

    This sounds like a pretty serious condition – is there a possibility of more significant consequences should she not be periodically woken, beyond waking feeling unwell? If so, this is serious medical device territory and I would suggest beyond REMAP’s remit.

    Otherwise, it’s fairly straightforward to measure heart rate electronically, or you could measure blood oxygen saturation directly using a pulse oximeter, these are freely and cheaply available. The drop in heart rate or blood oxygen saturation could then be signalled with an audible buzzer or vibrating pad (these are used for alerting deaf people to emergencies, e.g. smoke detectors). There might be a little electronic interfacing required, I have this resource if you need assistance.

  5. Ian Tanner says:

    The term ‘sleep apnea’ seems to cover several conditions related to interupted or shallow night-time breathing. This client’s condition undoubtedly comes within this definition and, judging from the level of medical knowledge displayed by her, she has already been so diagnosed.
    The commonest, most succesful, treatment is CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). I am no expert but I do know several who have been so diagnosed and treated. This lady appears to have rejected this treatment? I think Remap should know why, before committing intellectual resources!

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