Blog Post

Inspire: No Mask. No Hose. Just Sleep.

December 19, 2022

Blog Post

Inspire: No Mask. No Hose. Just Sleep.

December 19, 2022
Those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are most likely familiar with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).

The mask. The hose. The noise. The discomfort. Although a CPAP works for many people with OSA, other patients might not be able to tolerate it.
Many cannot use CPAP simply because of claustrophobia. Some people develop pressure sores on their forehead from the mask. Some are just embarrassed to use the machine with their spouse present.

Inspire® Upper Airway Stimulation, an innovative OSA treatment option for those who cannot use CPAP therapy, is now available at Freeman. Freeman is the first and only health system within a 70-mile radius of Joplin to offer Inspire. 

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, OSA is the most common sleep apnea and roughly 22 million Americans are affected by it. OSA is caused by throat muscles relaxing during sleep, which in turn blocks your airway and causes you to repeatedly stop and start breathing while sleeping. This causes poor sleep and puts someone at risk for stroke, heart attack or heart failure.

The first and most common treatment for OSA is CPAP therapy. A plastic hose connects the machine to a face mask that you wear while sleeping. The machine pushes pressured air into your airway, keeping it from closing. Inspire is an alternative to CPAP that works inside your body while you sleep. No mask or hose is needed.

Inspire is a small nerve stimulator device that delivers mild stimulation to airway muscles. During an outpatient procedure, the physician implants the small nerve stimulator device and battery pack under the skin in the chest. The system includes two small electronic leads, with one connecting the device to the nerve that stimulates the tongue and the other to a space in the ribs near the diaphragm.
Inspire Illustration
A lead on the chest senses when the patient breathes. An impulse is then sent to the nerve of the tongue to protrude the tongue just enough to open the airway, thus alleviating the airway obstruction. 

After the procedure, patients will return to the ENT surgeon’s office so the device can be activated. The patient controls Inspire with a small, handheld remote by turning Inspire on before bed and off in the morning. Patients can also pause therapy during the night or adjust therapy settings. 

Candidates for Inspire therapy are those who meet the following requirements:

  • Diagnosis of OSA with an apnea hypopnea index (AHI) score between 15 – 65 on a sleep study 
  • Body mass index (BMI) of 32 or less (36 or less for Medicare patients)
  • Cannot use or get consistent benefit from CPAP
  • 18 years of age or older

Inspire is FDA-approved and reimbursed by most major insurance providers, and Medicare reimburses the cost based on medical necessity.

Dr. Grant Pierson and Dr. Jason Maxfield evaluate and treat patients’ OSA, providing referrals to Dr. Kent McIntire for implantation of the Inspire device or patients can go to Dr. McIntire directly for an appointment and evaluation.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. McIntire, call 417.347.6767. To learn more about Inspire Therapy at Freeman, visit