Northbridge Insurance

With the support of insurance and transportation industry partners such as Northbridge Insurance, Toronto Rehab scientists are spearheading the first-ever trucking industry focused study of sleep apnea in Canada. We thank Northbridge Insurance for being the first of many generous donors to fund this initiative to reform and improve Canadian road safety.

According to a study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in 2001, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects more than a quarter of commercial truck drivers.  Diagnosing sleep apnea can be difficult because displaying the symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean the person has it.

To help combat the issue, Northbridge Insurance held a sleep apnea symposium on May 12, 2015 titled: Obstructive Sleep Apnea – The Impact on Canadian Trucking & Logistics. On the list of speakers were Dr. Geoff Fernie, Director of the research institute at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and Dr. Hisham Alshaer, Scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, who spoke about the medical effects of sleep apnea.

Dr. Fernie explained that those who stop breathing for more than 10 seconds 10 times per night have obstructive sleep apnea, and the lack of oxygen in the body during these breath pauses cause a spike in blood pressure causing more strain on the patient’s health.

Dr. Alshaer explained one of the reasons behind the prevalence of sleep apnea in the trucking community is fluid build-up in the legs which occurs when one doesn’t move them much during the day. When they lie down to sleep, that fluid travels upward into the neck and can cause an obstructed airway, which sometimes causes sleep apnea in adults. He added diet as a factor; obesity is linked to sleep apnea since many professional drivers resort to getting their meals at truck stops.

To make diagnosis easier, the doctors showed Dr. Alshaer’s latest invention, the world’s first portable, cordless medical device for sleep apnea diagnosis.

Dr. Fernie explained, “What we basically did is to develop a simple thing that you take home and you wear. Just put it on and you just go to sleep. It’s a frame that’s holding a microphone in front of your mouth and your nose, so it’s able to listen very carefully and record the sounds of your breath.”

By recording the breathing patterns during your sleep the data collected by the machine can be analyzed by doctors who can determine whether or not the patient has sleep apnea.

Learn how you can support this initiative

In Photo: Toronto Rehab's Drs. Hisham Alshaer and Geoff Fernie with Northbridge Insurance's Nora Hillyer, and lawyer Rui Fernandes.
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