Collaborative Research: Fluid Dynamics-based analysis towards control of sleep apnea

  • Xi, Jinxiang J. (PI)

Grant Details


PI: Dong, Haibo / XI, Jinxiang

Proposal Number: 1605232 / 1605434

The goal of the proposed research is to investigate the fluid dynamics mechanisms that can lead to sleep apnea and to develop fluid dynamics-based strategies for intervention. The importance of understanding the reasons for this condition at a fundamental level is very significant, since this condition that can sometimes result in deaths.

The goal of the proposed research is to advance the fundamental knowledge of biological fluid dynamics in prediction and control of human snoring through a combined physiology-based modeling, physics-based simulation, analysis, verification, and optimization approach. This approach is also applicable to a wide range of engineering and biological systems, such as noise reduction and phonation. There are mainly two objectives: (1) to develop a methodology for unveiling the flow physics and sound-producing mechanism of biological fluid-structure coupling problems and (2) to use the methodology for the investigation of optimal intervention procedures in order to ease the vortex-induced snore symptoms towards a better quality of life. The proposed work is highly interdisciplinary and involves fundamental scientific problems in the fields of biology, physics, physiology, and engineering. Snoring is an audible sign coded with richness of information about human respiratory functions. The sound comes from a complex interaction between compliant airway structures and the transient vortex shedding which is induced by the narrowing of the airway passage. However, the specific snore source mechanisms are still elusive, despite the significant in vitro and clinical efforts. Physics-based numerical investigation of the snore source will promise to quantify the relationship between the nonlinear response of the flexible airways and the respiratory vortex dynamics for sound generation. Currently, snore source diagnosis relies on expensive and time-consuming procedures that are outsourced to special analytical laboratories. Such challenges in performing in vivo and in vitro snore diagnosis will make the numerical methods ideal investigative tools. The PIs propose to systematically study the snore-producing mechanisms of different age and gender groups, paying particular attention to the underlying physics of biological fluid-structure interaction and associated sound sources. This is to be accomplished through the use of a combined modeling, simulation, analysis, validation, and optimization approach. The findings from the proposed research could provide pre-surgical guidelines for alleviating the apnea-causing factors by minimizing sound production of the system. Findings from this work could be used by acoustic experts and respiratory therapists for understanding the sound source production and control from its biological origin. The theories developed from this research will promote accurate diagnosis of snore sources and effective treatment of patients with snoring or other respiratory disorders. The research work will also be the central theme in a multi-level education program in which: (1) PIs will continue to provide summer undergraduate research experience to attract and retain engineering students from under-represented groups; (2) the proposed methodology will be incorporated into the PIs' existing graduate level course on bio-inspired flow and respiratory aerosol dynamics; and (3) an educational lab curriculum in snore specialty will be developed to provide multi-disciplinary training and research opportunities for high-school and college students and to support biomedical and bio-inspired engineering programs in both University of Virginia and Central Michigan University

Effective start/end date09/1/1603/31/18


  • National Science Foundation: $189,406.00


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