Stefanie Lattner - Gibsonia PA
Douglas M. Mechlenburg - Pittsburgh PA
Respironics, Inc. - Pittsburgh PA
An apparatus and method in which the portions of the labyrinth associated with the labyrinthine sense and/or the nerves associated therewith are stimulated to perform at least one of the following functions: augment or control a patient's respiratory function, open the patient's airway, induce sleep, and/or counteract vertigo. In one embodiment, the vestibular stimulating system of the present invention includes 1) a stimulation element that performs the actual stimulation of the tissue, 2) a sensor to detect a physiological condition of the patient, and 3) a power/control unit that receives the signals provided by the sensor and causes stimulation energy to be provided to the stimulation element at an appropriate timing, level, pattern, and/or frequency to achieve the desired function. However, the present invention also contemplates eliminating the sensor in favor of applying a predetermined pattern of stimulation to the patient.