The continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine was developed in 1981 as a home treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea. CPAP works by creating increased air pressure within the upper airway and thereby keeping the airway open. The patient wears a face mask with a tube attached to a shoe box sized device that creates the air pressure.
CPAP is commonly used in intensive care units as a form of ventilation, but is still the prefered treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea by some health institutions in the world. In recent years this has begun to change. Countries such as Sweden, the Netherlands, and France, now use MAA type therapy such as the Somnowell as the treatment of choice for obstructive sleep apnoea.
Studies have shown patient compliance with CPAP therapy is frequently as low as 50%. Patients find wearing the mask uncomfortable and the machine itself can be noisy. Understandably prospective candidates for CPAP therapy can often be quite reluctant, finding the mere thought of wearing such a contraption every night unbearable.