ORLANDO, Fla., July 12, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Aviv Clinics highlights a groundbreaking new study that has been published in Scientific Reports, featuring a promising treatment for long COVID symptoms. The study utilizes the most comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis protocol reported in any long COVID study to date. Long COVID, characterized by symptoms that persist more than three months after contracting the virus, affects up to 30% of patients infected by the COVID-19 virus. For millions suffering with long COVID symptoms, the study provides new hope for long-term recovery.
The prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was designed around hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) and conducted by the Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research at Shamir Medical Center and Tel Aviv University. The study included 73 patients with reported post-COVID-19 cognitive symptoms such as inability to concentrate, brain fog, forgetfulness and difficulty recalling desired words or thoughts. These symptoms had significantly affected their quality of life and persisted for more than three months following an RT-PCR test confirming COVID-19 infection. The study included comprehensive evaluations of participants’ brains with high resolution advanced brain MRI, computerized cognitive testing and comprehensive clinical symptoms evaluation.
Participants were divided into two groups: 37 patients received HBOT treatment and 36 were designated into the blinded, sham-controlled group (placebo sessions were received with normal air). Patients and investigators were unaware of their designated treatment protocol. The unique treatment protocol was comprised of 40 daily HBOT sessions, five sessions per week within a two-month period, in which patients entered a multiplace HBOT chamber and breathed 100% oxygen by mask at 2 atmospheres absolute (ATA) for 90 minutes with oxygen fluctuations.
The study suggests that the COVID-19 virus can cause chronic brain injury affecting brain regions responsible for cognitive function, mental status and pain interpretation. In the published study, patients treated by HBOT had significant improvement in their global cognitive function and more cognitive improvement related to their specific damaged brain regions responsible for attention and executive function. Significant improvement was also demonstrated in the energy domain, sleep, psychiatric symptoms and pain interference. Participants in the control group, who received only the placebo (sham) treatment, did not experience significant improvement in their persistent long COVID symptoms. The beneficial effects of the unique treatment protocol can be attributed to neuroplasticity and increased brain perfusion in regions associated with cognitive and emotional roles.
“The research suggests that the development of post-COVID-19 conditions related to the central nervous system includes direct neurological injury mostly in the frontal lobes – the area of the brain that plays a major role in cognitive and mental functions. Today, we understand that in some patients, the virus can penetrate the brain through the cribriform plate, the part of the skull located just above the nose, and trigger chronic brain injury presented as cognitive decline such as brain fog, loss of concentration and mental fatigue – said Dr. Shai Efrati, the research group leader, director of the Sagol Center and chair of Aviv Scientific’s Medical Advisory Board. – The study revealed that HBOT can induce structural and functional repair of the damaged regions of the brain and improve the cognitive, behavioral and emotional function of the unfortunate patients suffering from post-COVID-19 conditions”.
The protocols and evaluation procedures used in this clinical study are available at Aviv Clinics in central Florida and Dubai and at Shamir Medical Center in Israel.
In October 2021, the World Health Organization issued an official definition of long COVID to refer to the range of new, returning or ongoing symptoms after initial COVID-19 infection. The definition includes cognitive dysfunction as one of the common symptoms. A University of Cambridge and Exeter study to further recognize neurological characteristics associated with long COVID reported that 78% of long COVID patients experienced difficulties with concentration, 69% reported brain fog, and 68% reported forgetfulness.
With more cases of long COVID being identified across the nation, President Joe Biden recently announced the launch of a national research action plan on long COVID, which calls on the Department of Health and Human Services to expand existing research on the condition and coordinate more care for patients.
“Millions of those who have recovered from COVID-19 are experiencing debilitating symptoms which persist for weeks, months or even years following their original infection. Until today, no effective therapy has been suggested. Our research is the first randomized controlled trial to demonstrate a real solution for the long haulers”, said Dr. Amir Hadanny, chief researcher and head of global clinical operations at Aviv Clinics.
Long COVID is one of many conditions that can be treated through HBOT. Previous HBOT-specific studies have demonstrated the ability to improve and treat brain injuries such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, age-related cognitive decline and PTSD in treatment-resistant veterans by increasing brain blood flow, generating new neurons and improving brain metabolism.
The same mechanisms conducted during these clinical trials have been replicated by Aviv Clinics and are administered under the same strict protocols, with additional cognitive, physical and dietary support provided to patients.
Aviv Clinics’ advanced, comprehensive treatment program offers patients holistic care to treat a variety of symptoms related to post-COVID, stroke, traumatic brain injury, concussion, fibromyalgia, PTSD, Lyme disease, or to maintain physical and cognitive performance as a part of the aging process. In addition to the use of HBOT, the Aviv medical team prepares a robust individualized treatment schedule for each client including physical and cognitive training and a dietary plan.
The full study is available here. For more on Aviv Clinics, visit aviv-clinics.com.
Aviv Clinics is the leader in the treatment of age-related cognitive and functional decline and novel applications of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to maximize human performance. Based on an exclusive partnership with the world’s largest hyperbaric medicine and research facility, the Sagol Center at Shamir Medical Center in Israel, Aviv is introducing a global network of clinics delivering the effective, evidence-based Aviv Medical Program. The two- to three-month regimen designed to improve cognitive and physical decline is based on over a decade of research. More than 1,000 patients have been treated worldwide under the scientific leadership of Shai Efrati, M.D., Chair of Aviv Scientific’s Medical Advisory Board and Director of the Sagol Center.
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