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First pediatric sleep lab in Saskatchewan a dream come true

An overnight hospital stay for children requiring sleep studies is about to get a whole lot cozier. A unique space designed to mimic the atmosphere of a child’s bedroom is making its way into the new Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital as Saskatchewan’s first dedicated Pediatric Sleep Lab.

“Sleep disordered breathing is a huge problem. It affects growth, development, school performance, behaviour, and can cause heart failure,” explains Dr. Darryl Adamko, Head of Pediatric Respirology, who is developing the Pediatric Sleep program in Saskatoon. “Many kids are misdiagnosed with attention or mood disorders because of poor sleep.”

Located on the second floor of the new children’s hospital, the Pediatric Sleep Lab will include two separate rooms fitted within Acute Care Pediatrics. It will serve children who struggle with underlying complications that prevent a good night’s sleep – from difficult lung problems to snoring and obstruction to mental health and brain disorders. If doctors notice symptoms that require further testing, the child will be only steps away from the proper care they need.

“Currently, we are able to measure everything except the quality of sleep,” says Adamko. “This needs measurement of electrical activity in the brain using EEG measurements. The new sleep test is called a polysomnogram. A dedicated sleep technician will be in place all night for this test. This process helps determine sleep quality, which is essential for the more difficult cases.”

Children with sleep-affecting medical conditions will barely notice they are in a hospital. The setting will have an “at-home” feel rather than a clinical one. With sound-protecting walls, the child’s sleep pattern will have closer resemblance to their regular night time routine, allowing doctors to record a more accurate sleep study. An ultramodern part of the lab will include the control room where specialized technicians will visually monitor and oversee the testing.

“The lab will also have the necessary technical requirements to start non-invasive ventilation (CPAP or BiPap). Non-invasive ventilation devices provide the child with a mask instead of an endotracheal tube to relieve obstruction. Previously we have been sending kids to Alberta or Manitoba for full sleep study tests or adjustment of CPAP,” says Adamko. “With the new lab, we will have dedicated technology to run these studies.”

Dr. Darryl Adamko

To coordinate with a child’s optimal night-time sleep pattern, the lab will be used primarily during the night. Dr. Adamko and Dr. Salah Almubarak of Pediatric Neurology have come up with a novel use of the lab during the day. Day time use will accommodate an Epilepsy Monitoring Unit for the Pediatric Epilepsy Program of Saskatchewan. This is the first of its kind in Canada.

“Currently we have been finding time on the wards or in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) to do sleep studies or to start CPAP,” says Adamko. “Many children have long wait times or have studies cancelled because the bed is just not available. While I’m grateful to our ward and PICU staff for helping with sleep disorders, I look forward to having our own space dedicated to our sleep children. Most of the sleep equipment we have now has been funded generously by Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation donors, which have been fundamental in our sleep lab.”

“This space is one of the most defining features in the new Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital,” says Kristina Konchak, Director, Major Gifts at Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation. “Serving as the first of its kind in the province, it is going to bring a level of innovation that Saskatchewan has yet to see in pediatric health care. Sleep has a major impact on a child’s health as well as family dynamics. The children of our province will have a better experience getting a better night’s sleep on their way to becoming healthy adults.”

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