Recently published clinical trial is the first to comprehensively evaluate, diagnose and treat neurological conditions in people experiencing debilitating and lingering COVID-19 symptoms

DUBAI, UAE: A groundbreaking new study has been published in Scientific Reports, highlighting a promising treatment for long COVID symptoms, Aviv Clinics in Dubai has said. The study utilises the most comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis protocol reported in any long COVID study to date. Long COVID, characterised 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 treatment protocol that was validated in the clinical study was the same protocol used by Aviv Clinics in Dubai, a pioneering medical science clinic using the world’s first proven protocol to reverse human aging. That protocol was to treat a previously healthy and athletic 56-year-old resident in the UAE suffering from a number of cognitive and physical long COVID health issues following hospitalization due to severe COVID in 2019.

The prospective, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was designed around hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). 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.

This research study was conducted by the Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research at Shamir Medical Center and Tel Aviv University. The treatment protocols and evaluation procedures used in this clinical study are available at Aviv Clinics in Dubai, a wholly owned subsidiary of DP World.

Figure-1 – The potential penetration routes of COVID-19 virus to the brain. Once penetrating, the virus can bind and cause damage to neurons and glia cells. In addition, within the blood vessels, the virus can induce thrombus formation causing brain infracts Figure-2 – The repair mechanisms induce by Hyperbaric oxygen therapy: Angiogenesis (generation of new blood vessels) and neurogenesis (generation of new neurons)

“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 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 our 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 Journal of Medical Case Reports, an international open access peer-reviewed medical journal, recently published a case study on an Aviv Clinics Dubai client that validated the ability of the HBOT treatments to effectively and measurably reverse several specific long COVID health effects.

Mike Frayne, CEO of Aviv Clinics Dubai, said: “This client told us that reversing the executive function effects of long COVID, such as memory and flexibility in thinking, as well as physical performance attributes were both very important quality of life priorities. When we measured the pre- and post-treatment executive function skills, we saw a substantial increase in executive function performance.  From a physical performance perspective, he was able to go from being limited to light jogging due to breathlessness to reporting that he returned to mountain running and rowing after the full HBOT treatment.”

In addition to the increase in executive performance, pre- and post-treatment testing showed a significant increase in lung capacity, which measures the maximum ability of oxygen someone can breathe in and out in a single breath, as well as an increase in the maximum amount of oxygen available to the body for use by the heart, brain, lungs and muscles.

Generation of new nerve fibers (neurogenesis) in the frontal brain regions of patient with Long-COVID, Pre and Post HBOT. Regions responsible for attention, mental state and executive functions (capacity to plan, organize, initiate, self-monitor and control one’s responses in order to achieve a goal).

The protocols and evaluation procedures used in this clinical study are available at Aviv Clinics in Dubai, Florida 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.

“Millions of those who have recovered from COVID-19 are experiencing debilitating symptoms which persist for weeks, months or even two 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.

About Aviv Clinics

Aviv Clinics have invested for more than 15 years in developing and clinically trialing its unique HBOT treatment protocol which involves patients breathing pure oxygen in a special room known as an HBOT suite. DP World established Aviv Clinics Dubai as a wholly owned subsidiary to bring this highly specialised technology and treatment programme to the UAE, contributing to Dubai’s position as the MENA Region’s outstanding destination for healthcare innovation, investment and quality of care.

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.

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