Philips Respironics, Murrysville, Pa, worked behind the scenes on the seventh season of NBC’s The Biggest Loser: Couples to provide medical equipment, testing, treatment, and therapy for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This marked the first time in the show’s history that contestants received comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for OSA.
“It is amazing to see the contestants’ progress to healthier living firsthand and to educate cast and crew about the importance of restful sleep. Being involved in The Biggest Loser: Couples and with the show’s medical team behind the scenes has allowed us to deliver an important health message to contestants, their families, and the viewers,” says Pam Minkley, clinical trainer and member of the on-site Philips Respironics team in an announcement from the company.
Each contestant received an overnight sleep study in the fall of 2008 in a hotel. Sixteen of the 22 contestants were diagnosed with OSA and were given equipment and therapy.
To support this effort, Philips Respironics provided diagnostic tools (ProTech sensors, oximeters, electrodes, and set-up materials) and Alice 5 Diagnostic Sleep Systems. Philips Respironics therapeutic equipment—including the REMstar Auto M Series with A-Flex, BiPAP Pro with Bi-Flex, the EverFlo Q oxygen concentrator, and a variety of masks—was also used. Those contestants who were diagnosed with OSA were monitored using EncoreAnywhere with a combination of SmartCard downloads and modems. Philips Respironics continues to provide support on weekly phone consultations to contestants as they leave the show.
On the April 28 episode, Ron, a contestant, mentioned that he has sleep apnea and showed his mask on-air. The full episode will be posted to NBC’s Web site within the week.
The Biggest Loser: Couples airs Tuesdays at 8:00 PM EDT on NBC.