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Experiments test if implant can block sleep apnea

Washington Post, December 30, 2010
Scientists are beginning to test if an implanted pacemaker-like device might help certain sleep apnea sufferers, keeping their airways open by zapping the tongue during sleep. One of the main causes of obstructive sleep apnea is that the tongue and throat muscles relax too much during sleep, enough to temporarily collapse and block breathing for 30 seconds or so at a time. The idea behind the experimental implant: Stimulate the nerve that controls the base of the tongue with a mild electrical current during sleep, and maybe it will stay toned and in place like it does during the day rather than becoming floppy.