Contractor invents mask liner

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

JACKSON, Mich.--They call necessity the mother of invention and nobody knows that better than Bob Rutan.

Two years ago, Rutan’s wife began using CPAP, and she had a devil of a time fastening her mask on securely. The natural oils and sweat on her face made the mask slip and slide, allowing irritating air leaks to develop.

“She would say, ‘I can’t do this. It’s waking me up,’” Rutan remembered. “I said, ‘You’ve got to do it because you could die if you don’t.’ I was distraught.”

She switched masks, but that did not help. Then one night Rutan got an idea. From an old T-shirt he cut a piece of cloth. He cut a hole in the cloth and fitted it over his wife’s nose. He then refastened the CPAP mask. That did it.

She slept for six hours, and Rutan, a contractor for the past 35 years, had the prototype of what has become the RemZzzs CPAP mask liner.

“This works like a gasket that prevents leaks,” said Dr. Satya Chaparala, a board certified sleep doctor in Battle Creek, Mich., and a CPAP user. “I was his guinea pig. I’ve have been using it for six months and I love it.” 

Chaparala recommends the RemZzzs to his patients who have chronic problems with mask leaks.

Because the RemZzzs absorbs facial oils, Rutan recommends that a fresh one be used each night. A pack of 30 costs $24.95 and can be purchased from the company’s Web site, HME providers can purchase it wholesale.

“I get a lot of people who love it, and it has really improved their compliance,” said Paula Curtiss, an RT at Allegiance Home Medical in Jackson, Mich.

Rutan loves to talk about the RemZzzs, but don’t ask him what kind of fabric it’s made from. He won’t say.

 “I tell people Colonel Sanders had his secret and we do, too,” he said.