A recently published study in collaboration with researchers from the University of Minnesota found that truck drivers suffering from sleeping disorders have a greater chance of crashing especially if they don’t manage to comply with their treatment.
The main sleeping disorder targeted by researchers was obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in truck drivers who –according to a study published on Monday – could face a threat to themselves and others when do not follow their routine treatment programs.
The new study also co-authored by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute researchers was featured on Monday in the 2016 online edition of the journal Sleep. The study involved the examination of over 1,600 American truck drivers suffering from OSA, in addition to the control group including the same amount of drivers without the sleeping disorder.
Researchers found astounding results as they showed those volunteers with sleep apnea had the need for a treatment with positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP). The recommended treatment involving the use of the CPAP keeps the patient’s airways open during sleep in order to enhance respiratory capacity.
Furthermore, truck drivers involved in the test were given CPAP machines for their personal use, whether it is used at home or between breaks in their truck’s sleeper compartment. A disease management team assisted truck drivers in order for them to learn how to properly use the equipment as well as meeting the requirements with the therapy suggested.
Strict testing gets clear-cut results
According to the press released by Virginia Tech, drivers who didn’t use their CPAP machines showed a higher risk of having a crash accident. It’s worth remarking that the program involved a strict monitoring as truck drivers received frequent phone calls from the supervisors of the study.
Also, internal chips placed in each CPAP machine allowed researchers to track the drivers’ use of the equipment on a daily basis without the driver even noticing.
“Drivers with OSA who remained non-adherent as demonstrated by objective APAP adherence monitoring despite this multi-faceted process of remediation were eventually terminated after the process of remediation failed,” said researchers in the press release published on the journal Sleep.
At the same time, truck drivers who regularly used their positive airway pressure therapy showed lower risks of being involved in a crash than the ones who didn’t follow the mandatory treatment for OSA.
This study could lead to further advances in respiratory treatments for patients suffering from all sorts of sleeping disorders, and thus, preventing truck drivers from falling asleep while driving. The focus of the study was to help reduce the risk truck drivers with OSA endure, as obstructive sleep apnea affects at least 25 million American adults, researchers stated.