Sleep apnea in children: Dylan’s story

by Americare Respiratory Services

When he was only 4 years old, Dylan Howie’s parents feared he would not making it through the night because of sleep apnea – a sleep disorder that blocks air from getting to the lungs while sleeping.  This condition is rare in children, but for the Howie family, they dealt with sleep apnea every day.  Dylan’s parents felt helpless against sleep apnea.  There was nothing they could do for him. No way to make sure he’d be okay at night. 

In adults, sleep apnea is treated with a breathing machine worn at night.  This wasn’t an option for Dylan, being so young.  A 4-year-old boy would not tolerate the face mask and tubes at night, so there must be a better way, right?  Wrong. 

Another option might have been to hook up Dylan to a monitoring device with a bunch of wires to monitor his vital signs all night, but that was far from ideal. 

Lucky for Dylan, his father did not give up on a solution for Dylan.  Eric Howie’s commitment to his son led him to develop a product that monitors vital signs with an antenna, safely tucked under a child’s mattress.  The antenna detects electrical changes in the body that happen with a tissue changes shape, such a lung or heart. 

For Dylan, his dad’s ingenuity meant he would not have to be connected to a machine all night.  Instead, Dylan’s dad just tucks the antenna under the mattress and rests assured that Dylan would be okay. 

Eric Howie’s company is called Life Detection Systems.  It was funded by Jumpstart Foundry.  Life Detection Systems was still in fundraising mode as of August 2015. 

The product has potential uses in many other scenarios besides sleep apnea.  Parents who are concerned about SIDS would also benefit from a remote vital signs monitor for infants.  Mr. Howie says the technology may also be used to detect drowsy drivers or drunk drivers, and even prevent the death of infants left alone in car seats.

This story was originally published by The Tennessean on Aug 18, 2015: