Incorporating developments in the field of computational mechanics, UCLA researchers have created a computer model of the upper airway that may ultimately predict obstructive sleep apnea patients’ response to dental sleep appliances.

A UCLA professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and his colleagues have achieved promising preliminary results with their novel 3D upper airway simulation. Where previous simulations have treated the airway as rigid, Jeff D. Eldredge, PhD, MS, and team’s model depicts the tissue as it experiences elastic deformation and collapse with breath. This allows it to better show the pathophysiology of OSA and more realistically predict occlusion—with the ultimate goal of allowing practitioners to virtually “try out” therapies in a given patient’s simulation to find out if they will work in real life.