Banner Procedure Alters Course of Life for Patient with Down Syndrome

(Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush:

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A Berthoud man with Down syndrome rests more easily after undergoing a medical procedure that helps him sleep at night.

Local Banner Health physicians believe that Travis Rice, 29, is the first patient with Down syndrome in the Northern Colorado area to have the Inspire device implanted as a treatment for sleep apnea.

People with Down syndrome often have differences in their facial structure that create a more collapsible airway when breathing and sleeping at night. For this reason, rates of sleep apnea are higher among people with Down syndrome.

“We have long realized that untreated sleep apnea significantly increases the risk of stroke and heart attack,” said Banner ear, nose, and throat specialist Dr. Matt Robertson.

A common treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, a mask that delivers air pressure while a person sleeps to keep the airway from collapsing. The trick is some people don’t tolerate wearing a CPAP. Travis’ mother, Patty Rice, said that was not an option for Travis, who was getting ready to move out of the home to semi-independent living.

“It’s important for the community to be aware that if the gold standard for treating sleep apnea like CPAP or other first-line therapy is not tolerated, there are other options and it’s important to speak to a sleep specialist about what those are,” said Banner pulmonologist and sleep physician Dr. Siavash Panah.

Travis was a perfect candidate for Inspire, a small device that is placed inside your body and opens the airway allowing a person to breathe normally during sleep. He had surgery at Banner North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley in May 2022.

“Down syndrome patients are typically living longer with medical breakthroughs such as Inspire,” Dr. Robertson said.

“This procedure altered the course of Travis’ life,” Dr. Panah said.