UBC Faculty Research and Publications

A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of Effect of Genioglossus Muscle Strengthening on Obstructive Sleep Apnea Outcomes Maghsoudipour, Maryam; Nokes, Brandon; Bosompra, Naa-Oye; Jen, Rachel; Li, Yanru; Moore, Stacie; DeYoung, Pamela N.; Fine, Janelle; Edwards, Bradley A.; Gilbertson, Dillon; et al.


The genioglossus is a major upper airway dilator muscle. Our goal was to assess the efficacy of upper airway muscle training on Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) as an adjunct treatment. Sixty-eight participants with OSA (AHI > 10/h) were recruited from our clinic. They fall into the following categories: (a) Treated with Automatic Positive Airway Pressure (APAP), (n = 21), (b) Previously failed APAP therapy (Untreated), (n = 25), (c) Treated with Mandibular Advancement Splint (MAS), (n = 22). All subjects were given a custom-made tongue strengthening device. We conducted a prospective, randomized, controlled study examining the effect of upper airway muscle training. In each subgroup, subjects were randomized to muscle training (volitional protrusion against resistance) or sham group (negligible resistance), with a 1:1 ratio over 3 months of treatment. In the baseline and the final visit, subjects completed home sleep apnea testing, Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), SF-36 (36-Item Short Form Survey), and Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT). Intervention (muscle training) did not affect the AHI (Apnea-Hypopnea Index), (p-values > 0.05). Based on PSQI, ESS, SF-36 scores, and PVT parameters, the changes between the intervention and sham groups were not significant, and the changes were not associated with the type of treatment (p-value > 0.05). The effectiveness of upper airway muscle training exercise as an adjunct treatment requires further study.

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