Use of in vivo desensitization to treat a patient's claustrophobic response to nasal CPAP.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) has proven to be a safe, effective treatment for sleep apnea patients. However, many patients display claustrophobic reactions to the CPAP nasal mask and cannot tolerate this treatment. The current report describes the successful application of in vivo desensitization with a male apnea patient who initially failed CPAP therapy due to his claustrophobia. Over the course of treatment, the patient became able to tolerate using his CPAP device throughout his nocturnal sleep periods. Moreover, follow-up visits scheduled 6 months and again at 6 1/2 years after behavioral treatment showed that the patient continued to use CPAP on a regular basis. It is concluded that in vivo desensitization therapy may be useful in assisting claustrophobic patients to tolerate nasal CPAP. Results are discussed in view of the specific features of the case presented, and future applications of this behavioral procedure are encouraged.
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