Considerable global effort has been directed towards vaccination to control the spread of COVID-19. While there is significant success in these preventative efforts, there is still a need to consider options to improve the outcomes of those who have been infected. This presentation discusses photobiomodulation (PBM) as such an option.
PBM is increasingly used by neurofeedback practitioners as an adjunct to the established brain training practices. Hence it is worth examining its prospect for treating the largest health crisis in a century.
PBM is a modality involving the delivery of certain light to modulate the body and brain. Its mechanisms and related evidence are credible bases for this modality to help treat patients with COVID-19 and other viral infections.
Literature have shown that PBM is antiviral (Liu, 2003), it is anti-inflammatory (Hamblin, 2017), and accelerates the healing of lesions and sepsis (Costa, 2017), all are important factors in COVID-19 morbidity. These properties are supported by reports of rapid recovery in several severe hospitalization cases (Sohailifar, 2020). These are just a few cases, but the positive outcomes warrant randomized controlled trials (RCTs) for widely acceptable validation.
In this respect, we have been conducting a pivotal RCT involving 280 subjects to determine whether PBM can shorten the time to recovery in confirmed severe COVID-19. The device used allows the subjects treat themselves at home. At the time of writing, the RCT is yet to be completed but successful results upon completion will propose PBM as a viable treatment for COVID-19. Of further significance, it is an alternative for the population that seek a non- pharmaceutical treatment.
An interim analysis of the RCT at the 73 (out of 280) subject mark has concluded that the study is not futile with the recommendation that it should continue until completion.
Furthermore, at this time, the attention on the pandemic is shifting towards the long-term debilitating sequelae of chronic fatigue, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on the survivors, who are commonly known as “long haulers”. Literature suggests that PBM has the underlying bases for neuro-regulation to potentially address these.
This presentation will present the underlying mechanisms of PBM that can lead to an effective treatment for COVID- 19 and other coronavirus infections, and how the thoughtful selection of parameters can enhance the efficacy. It will also present an analysis of available clinical evidence if available, at the time of the presentation. The potential of PBM to treat long haulers will also be discussed; particular on chronic fatigue syndrome which is common in this cohort.
Presented by: Lew Lim