Skip to main content

On the Leading Edge of Sleep Disorder Research

 Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine - January 2017 


Research Director, Sleep Medicine, UH Cleveland Medical Center, Director, Sleep Disorders Program, Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center; Professor of Medicine, Physiology & Biophysics, and General Medical Sciences, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Detrimental consequences of abnormal breathing patterns during sleep—or sleep-disordered breathing—have been recognized for decades yet still present considerable, even fatal, risks to many patients. University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center has been at the forefront nationally for more than two decades in reducing these threats and advancing the field of sleep medicine through state of the art care and research for patients with simple to complex sleep disorders.

The Sleep Medicine program at UH Cleveland Medical Center offers a multidisciplinary, collaborative approach that has made a difference in the lives of many patients in the Cleveland area and beyond. This extended team encompasses experts in sleep medicine, pulmonary medicine, orthodontics, neurology, surgery, pediatrics, otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) and psychology. For instance, the renowned UH bariatric surgery program offers effective treatment for sleep disorders such as hypoventilation syndrome in overweight or obese patients.

“Our history as a research center for neuromuscular control of breathing is complemented by National Institutes of Health-funded research in sleep medicine epidemiology and neurobiology,” said Kingman Strohl, MD, research director of the Sleep Medicine program and Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. “In partnership with Case Western Reserve University, we have a broad range of active sleep research programs underway to define properties that are amenable to treatment, develop and assess investigational devices and medicines, study the basic science of sleep disorders, and conduct clinical trials on narcolepsy and other conditions.”

One of the most common sleep disorders is obstructive sleep apnea. A CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine is the first-line therapy for this condition, which occurs when breathing during sleep is interrupted, typically because the tongue, muscles or other tissue blocks the upper airway. Yet 40 to 50 percent of patients are unable or unwilling to use CPAP machines on a regular basis.

Management of CPAP-intolerant patients is a particular area of expertise at UH Cleveland Medical Center. For these patients, our Sleep Medicine team offers a range of treatment alternatives, including oral appliances, unilateral hypoglossal nerve stimulation, and an expanded range of surgical options.

“We have expertise in the evaluation of patients who are intolerant of CPAP therapy,” Strohl said. “We can help some of them through education about the purpose and manner of CPAP therapy or introduction of better equipment, but some are appropriate for alternatives. The goal is to tailor therapy to each individual’s condition and needs.”

The Sleep Medicine program has a new four bed, state of the art sleep lab at UH Cleveland Medical Center for sleep and waking studies, clinical research and treatment of complex cases. The new lab complements the program’s six bed lab at the Sleep Center at Marriott Residence Inn in Beachwood, Ohio.

The pediatric sleep medicine program, led by Carol Rosen, MD, protects the sleep of our youngest, offering consultations and a focus on pediatric sleep apnea and narcolepsy. The UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital protocols are the national standards for child-friendly sleep studies.

All National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for basic and clinical research is awarded to the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University.

For more information, or to refer a patient, call 216-844-3201.