Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is diagnosed when throat and tongue muscles relax abnormally strong and block the air flow during sleeping. This disturbance not only causes snoring but briefly wakes up the patient as a result of a short suffocation panic. OSA is the most common sleep disorder and it affects over 300,000 people in Belgium alone. Nyxoah’s therapy consists of a tiny neurostimulator implanted in the chin area. The system stimulates the tongue nerve. This keeps the upper airway open throughout the night, avoiding sleep apnoea.
Evidently, the most important part of the system is the implant itself. We designed the method how the implant is anchored to the tongue muscle in a stable and reliable way. In close collaboration with involved surgeons, we developed – during various prototype stages – the optimized surgical tool to improve the reliability, speed and usability of the implant positioning.
The system that the Belgo-Israeli start-up Nyxoah has developed is compact and requires a simple implantation, just under the chin of the patient. This implant directly stimulates the tongue muscles when needed. This keeps the upper airway open throughout the night. The implant itself is wirelessly powered by a small activation chip that the patient wears under the chin on a disposable patch while sleeping.
Since most of the complexity lies in the activation chip, the implant is kept simple, giving it a long lifetime. While Nyxoah mastered the required technology, they needed a partner to help create a complete system that guarantees a user-friendly approach for patients, doctors, and surgeons
Our designers and engineers developed a new solution to charge the implant and wear the device during the night. As a side effect, our designs are patented and are now an important element of Nyxoah’s IP.
The requirements of the digital interface had to have two main functionalities: continuous and discontinuous pulsing. One big button was provided to set parameters in function of the patient needs. Once the pulse has been given, the display highlights the working of the pulse and provides visual feedback to the operator. We were able to obtain these findings by testing and prototyping our designs by wireframing, clickable prototypes and user insights.
The result is a minimally invasive, compact, comfortable, effective, and affordable solution for patients who suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. This game-changing idea immediately gained worldwide recognition, as it won the ‘Frost & Sullivan New Product Innovation Leadership Award’ (2014) as well as the ‘World Technology Award’ (2014).
“Generating ideas with a 360° view resulted in a simplified usability. This contributed to the shift from a medical device to a user-friendly product.”
“Nice to be part of a small international team that is challenging every design detail to create a true breakthrough innovation.”