David Groll is the Founder and CEO of Circadiance. He is a veteran of the medical device industry, having previously founded Vincent Medical and served as an executive for Philips Respironics where he was involved in CPAP mask development.
SleepWeaver masks are so unique in the CPAP marketplace, there is really nothing else out there like them. Where did the idea for cloth CPAP masks come from?
I have been involved with engineering CPAP masks since the beginning of CPAP masks. The traditional mask design is comprised of a rigid plastic frame and either a silicon rubber or gel cushion. Statistics show that about half of CPAP users stop therapy and, in my experience, a lot of the time this is due to mask discomfort. I noticed two problems with traditional masks: the air pressure required to seal the mask on the face compromised the blood flow to the skin and they don't breath so moisture builds up on the skin. Both of these factors cause skin discomfort and promote mask intolerance.
I knew there had to be a better answer. My stroke of inspiration came when I realized that no one wears plastic pajamas to bed, so why are we making people wear plastic masks on their faces? This led to us exploring different mask materials and, in 2007, the SleepWeaver mask was born to solve this problem.
I find both the names Circadiance and SleepWeaver very clever. Who gets credit for coming up with those?
At the very beginning of the Company, our team brainstormed seemingly forever about the name. We wanted to capture the essence of a company that would appeal to people needing sleep AND convey the uniqueness of a cloth CPAP mask. I remember Googling ‘sleep’ names, acronyms, adjectives and reading the dictionary – just like new parents read baby name books. In looking at the name “Circadian” dozens of times – it finally dawned on us to add the ‘ce’ - hence Circadiance was born!
Regarding “SleepWeaver,” we kept coming back to the name “weaver” as the mask is sewn cloth. We wanted to incorporate a sleepy ‘dream’ theme for ‘soft sleep” – the song Dream Weaver was everywhere in all of our minds but we could not use it – so finally we kept the word “Weaver” to denote the sewing aspect and put “Sleep” in front of it! But it was the source of much fun conversation and group endeavors!
If I'm not mistaken, Kathy Groll is your wife. I also see a William Groll on your masthead. What's it like to work with family?
Kathy is indeed my wife. William is my brother and an investor in the company. He serves on the company Board of Directors. All of our children worked in the company when they were in middle school and high school. So Circadiance started off as a family business that has evolved into a more traditional medical device company.
Do you have any stories about patients that tried many different masks but couldn't tolerate CPAP therapy until they tried a SleepWeaver?
There are so many stories. One lady from Florida was so delighted that she was finally sleeping that she stood in the parking lot of the medical building each time she had a sleep doctor appointment and handed out SleepWeaver brochures and fliers along with her personal testimonial! She was probably the best sales rep that we've ever had!
Another CPAP patient worked in the service industry and was married to a respiratory therapist, so he was aware of all of the possible PAP mask choices out there. But he developed pressure ulcers and every day he had to wear bandages on his face to do his service calls. He was embarrassed but knew he needed the PAP therapy. One day he was assigned to do work in our office and saw the all-cloth SleepWeaver and asked if he could try it on. He has never had a pressure ulcer since wearing the SleepWeaver and he actually made a testimonial video for us!
What materials are the masks made with? Is there any advantage for CPAP users with sensitive skin or allergies?
The cloth material is similar to the cloth used in a windbreaker jacket, so it is air impermeable and holds air like a balloon. But the material is “moisture vapor breathable” allowing any moisture from the user’s skin to wick through the cloth and evaporate into the airflow from the CPAP machine which is quietly exhausted through the exhalation holes. The unique design based on cloth material makes SleepWeaver Masks skin-friendly.
There is no silicon and no latex in the SleepWeaver Masks. The cloth portion that touches the face of the masks consists of polyester, nylon, and elastane. The headgear material consists of polyurethane foam, nylon, and lycra.
I often suggest SleepWeaver masks for patients who are worried about lines on their faces. Are there other benefits to SleepWeaver masks?
All of the SleepWeaver PAP masks are lightweight – weighing just a couple of ounces- so they are not heavy on your face. This provides great comfort and is a benefit for everyone- but especially for people who experience claustrophobia. The SleepWeaver Masks have been deemed “skin-friendly” by many clinicians, and one of the largest US hospitals in the country uses the SleepWeaver line as their “go-to” for inpatient use. SleepWeaver masks have also been included in a white paper by a US children’s hospital which found that none of the patients wearing SleepWeaver masks developed pressure ulcers.
What are some "pro-tips" that patients should know about your masks, including how to make sure they get the best fit possible?
We recommend that you place a finger between your skin and the Mask straps to make sure the mask is snug but not tight. While this is counterintuitive to how a traditional, hard, plastic mask is put on, it really works! The mask is designed to fill with air, just as a balloon fills with air. So after a PAP patient puts their mask on and then turns on their PAP machine they will ‘shimmy’ the mask on their face while it fills with air, allowing the ‘balloon’ action to provide a seal as it conforms to their individual's facial landscape. No one is symmetrical – which is why we call it ‘shimmying’ as you moving the mask slowly over your face to find where the best fit is. It only takes minutes to find that perfect spot. Just a word of caution: if you have worn the traditional hard plastic mask and you are going to a SleepWeaver mask, be patient in fitting this all-cloth mask. It may take a couple of days to adjust.
One last tip is to always pull all of your hair through the headgear allowing as much of the headgear straps to touch skin as possible. If the straps are laying on your hair, the headgear will ‘slide’ and not allow the best fit possible. We have wonderful “fit videos” on our website – each mask has its own video and each video is two minutes or less.
How should someone looking for a cloth nasal mask decide whether they should go with an Elan, Advance, or 3D?
While each of these masks are skin-friendly and the most comfortable nasal masks on the market, here are some unique characteristics about each mask:
- 3 point headgear – a forehead strap and two side above-the-ear straps. Many PAP Users find this forehead strap to allow them to feel that the mask is on securely. Other PAP Users feel that this forehead strap is intrusive and they prefer an “open forehead” PAP mask.
- "One size fits many” concept. There is also the Advance Small that fits anyone 66 pounds or above. It comes in beige only and has a newly designed seal above the lips and under your nares for a softer feel under the nose.
- The exhalation holes are a pinhole design on the front of the mask, so there is no “jet” of air blowing out- just a soft puff of diffused air.
- Comes in five fun color choices: blue, beige, pink, camo, and leopard.
- Open forehead with two straps on each side. This allows for a better field of vision while for reading or watching TV.
- The Elan sits lower on the nose than the Advance and is designed so the user can wear it above the head with a tether strap or connected to the CPAP hose and running down the belly.
- It also comes in the same 5 colors as the Advance.
- Available in a "starter kit" with all sizes of cushions to ensure a good fit.
- The mask/cushion is one size only and the headgear only comes in two sizes. The headgear is really easy to fit because it is based on neck size.
- The headgear is unique in that it is designed to not touch the base of the neck. PAP users who have neck pain have reported that they benefit from this feature.
- Made of a new interface fabric that has an elastic characteristic that provides an incredible seal. it also has the open forehead and unrestricted vision.
Are there any new products in the pipeline that you can share with us?
We are excited about the newest member of the Advance family - the Advance Pediatric Mask. This incredible mask fits PAP users ages 2-7-years-old. The newly designed headgear is a 5-point adjustable headgear that will grow with the child.