Hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves neurocognitive functions and symptoms of post-COVID condition: randomized controlled trial

Shani Zilberman-Itskovich, Merav Catalogna, Efrat Sasson, Karin Elman-Shina, Amir Hadanny, Erez Lang, Shachar Finci, Nir Polak, Gregory Fishlev, Calanit Korin, Ran Shorer, Yoav Parag, Marina Sova, Shai Efrati

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35 Scopus citations

Abstract

Post-COVID-19 condition refers to a range of persisting physical, neurocognitive, and neuropsychological symptoms after SARS-CoV-2 infection. The mechanism can be related to brain tissue pathology caused by virus invasion or indirectly by neuroinflammation and hypercoagulability. This randomized, sham-control, double blind trial evaluated the effect of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT or HBO2 therapy) on post-COVID-19 patients with ongoing symptoms for at least 3 months after confirmed infection. Seventy-three patients were randomized to receive daily 40 session of HBOT (n = 37) or sham (n = 36). Follow-up assessments were performed at baseline and 1–3 weeks after the last treatment session. Following HBOT, there was a significant group-by-time interaction in global cognitive function, attention and executive function (d = 0.495, p = 0.038; d = 0.477, p = 0.04 and d = 0.463, p = 0.05 respectively). Significant improvement was also demonstrated in the energy domain (d = 0.522, p = 0.029), sleep (d = − 0.48, p = 0.042), psychiatric symptoms (d = 0.636, p = 0.008), and pain interference (d = 0.737, p = 0.001). Clinical outcomes were associated with significant improvement in brain MRI perfusion and microstructural changes in the supramarginal gyrus, left supplementary motor area, right insula, left frontal precentral gyrus, right middle frontal gyrus, and superior corona radiate. These results indicate that HBOT can induce neuroplasticity and improve cognitive, psychiatric, fatigue, sleep and pain symptoms of patients suffering from post-COVID-19 condition. HBOT’s beneficial effect may be attributed to increased brain perfusion and neuroplasticity in regions associated with cognitive and emotional roles.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11252
JournalScientific Reports
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 12 Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes

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