Prime, Inc. Makes Headway in its Efforts to Reduce Sleep Apnea for Drivers

Prime, Inc. Makes Headway in its Efforts to Reduce Sleep Apnea for Drivers

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is one of the most common sleep disorder facing commercial truck drivers. OSA causes the upper airway to collapse during sleep, depriving the body of oxygen and causing poor quality sleep. Drivers with OSA may suffer excessive daytime sleepiness, which can impair performance and increase the risk of accidents. Furthermore, it increases risk for serious health conditions.

Prime recognizes the disorder as a large issue within the transportation industry and is taking steps to prevent OSA and raise awareness among others.

In 2009, Prime drivers were provided access to medical screening for sleep apnea to help identify and treat its symptoms. By 2010, Prime established an onsite sleep lab, arranging for some of the most cost-effective sleep apnea treatment programs specifically for truck drivers. In 2014, Prime began to look more closely at both preventing sleep apnea as well has treating the most chronic and severe cases.

“Plenty of research shows that obese drivers with obstructive sleep apnea cause more accidents than non-obese drivers without OSA,” says Siphiwe Baleka, Prime’s Driver Health and Fitness Coach. “Prime is committed to making safer highways by making healthier, safer drivers.”

In February 2013, Prime Driver James Peters tested positive for sleep apnea with a baseline apnea/hypopnea (AHI) index of 50.5 events per hour. He enrolled in Prime’s Driver Health and Fitness (DHF) Program weighing 283 lbs. Today, Peters drives at a slender 225 lbs. Recently, Peters re-tested for sleep apnea; this time having just 1.2 AHI events per hour. Peters was the second Prime driver with chronic and severe sleep apnea to lose more than 100 lbs. and come off of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine this year.

“The drivers who are in the mild Obstructive Sleep Apnea group tend to be the ones who struggle the most with CPAP compliance,” says Heather Moenkhoff, Manager of Cardinal Sleep Lab. “They do not see a huge benefit from CPAP, because they are not experiencing the symptoms or having the detrimental effects from it yet. These are good people and good drivers; they just struggle with acclimating to therapy because they are in that mild range.

A recent audit was conducted at Prime and took a look at 175 drivers that enrolled in its DHF program, 86 of whom were tested for OSA and 75 were put on CPAP. Thirteen of those drivers lost 10% or more of their body weight, 39 drivers lost more than 7% of their body weight, and 62 drivers lost more than 5% of their body weight.

“We have been very successful helping these drivers lose weight. While it’s too early to tell the overall effect, we’ve had several drivers re-test negative for OSA or come off the CPAP machine,” said Baleka.

According to Moenkhoff, “If we can offer them this option along with CPAP compliance for 13 weeks and prove that this group can actually come off therapy with a lifestyle change, we all win. Not only do they improve their health and come off therapy, but Prime will also retain a valuable associate and the overall compliance numbers will increase. Even the drivers who do not come off therapy can see the actual benefits of fitness and wellness through the sleep study result comparison.”

For more information, contact Siphiwe Baleka at Prime, Inc. at sbaleka@primeinc.com

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