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Montana man's battle with sleep apnea alleviated with new technology

Posted at 11:35 AM, Apr 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-01 13:35:48-04

BILLINGS — BILLINGS - March is National Sleep Awareness Month and one Huntley man is finally able to get a good night’s rest after a 20-year battle with sleep apnea.

New technology in the form of an implant has changed his life for the better.

Loran Hansen doesn’t remember when he first started struggling with sleep.

“I could fall asleep at a minute’s notice, anywhere, during the day, at night,” Hansen said.

His wife was the first one to raise the alarm.

Hansen seemed to stop breathing when the couple would go to sleep.

“It made her nervous, so she’d reach over and hit me a couple of times to get me to wake back up,” Hansen said.

His lack of restful sleep was taking a toll on his job, his relationships, and even his personality.

“I know one of the things that my family speaks of is my irritability, short temper,” Hansen said.

He was diagnosed with sleep apnea after scheduling a sleep study.

His story isn’t unique. Sleep disorders can take a toll on anyone’s health.

“It can affect cardiovascular health, it can affect the endocrine system, as well as long term inflammatory processes,” said nurse practitioner Amanda Abrams-Burkley.

Abrams-Burkley is a sleep and respiratory specialist at St. Vincent Healthcare who has been treating Hansen for the past two years.

Hansen had been using a positive airway pressure, or CPAP machine, to aid his breathing while he slept.

“Day and night difference, the quality of sleep I got was tremendous,” Hansen said.

Hansen still felt his sleep could be improved. That’s when Abrams-Burkley told him about the Inspire implant.

“The implant that Loran has uses a mild stimulation to the airway muscles to help hold the airway open,” said Abrams-Burkley.

The implant was inserted in Hansen’s chest with a connection between the implant and a nerve in his neck.

“It’s not a hindrance towards anything. It’s not uncomfortable,” Hansen said.

The technology has been around since 2014, but it’s just recently been covered by most insurance companies.

Hansen is able to control the implant with a remote.

It’s as simple as pressing a button right before he goes to sleep, and then he’s out like a light.

“The quality of life is a ton better. I feel like there’s not a whole lot that I can’t do in a day,” Hansen said.

Abrams-Burkley urges those struggling with sleep disorders to reach out to their primary caregiver to find a solution.