Sleep Apnea and Truckers. To the Respironics, Resmeds and Fisher Paykels of the world, the two go together like Love and Marriage. To truckers the combination is more like oil and water. Clearly, the manufacturers have the moral high ground. But whether they will be able to woo truckers remains to be seen.
Truckers are disproportionately predisposed to having some form of Sleep Apnea, with one study pegging the number at 28% of all those holding commercial trucking licenses. And like most people who have some form of Sleep Apnea, truckers aren't getting treated for it. Now pair those facts with truckers driving 18-wheelers on long hauls for hours on end without interruption, and the potential for disaster is alarming: of the small number of truckers who actually are being treated for Sleep Apnea, the study showed, there was a 73% reduction in preventable driving accidents.
Mention Sleep Apnea to a trucker, and the likely response will be denial. Which makes sense on a certain level, because they fear that if they admit it they will have their licenses, along with their livelihoods, revoked. And indeed, at the behest of the CPAP manufacturers, the Federal Department of Transportation is headed down that path, proposing that to be physically fit to hold a trucking license a driver must have "no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of a respiratory dysfunction likely to interfere with his/her ability to control and drive a commercial motor vehicle safely." If such a dysfunction is detected, the driver must be evaluated and treated for the dysfunction. Easy enough to say, but as we all know, getting well with Sleep Apnea is about trial and error, and often takes time. How the D.O.T. and the manufacturers agitating for this change are going to deal with that hard fact remains to be seen. But this much is clear: their success in wooing their unwilling partner will depend on it.