Photobiomodulation Therapy: A Promising Treatment for Long COVID Brain Fog

Discover how photobiomodulation therapy shows promise in treating brain fog symptoms in long COVID patients. Learn about the long-term effects of COVID-19.

Apr 24, 2024

While COVID-19 may have faded from memory for some, others continue to grapple with the debilitating effects of "long COVID". One of the most common and frustrating symptoms is a persistent cognitive impairment known as "brain fog". At our neurotherapy practice in downtown San Francisco, we offer a cutting-edge treatment called photobiomodulation therapy (PBM) that may help alleviate cognitive issues related to post-COVID conditions. Emerging research suggests that PBM is a safe, non-invasive approach to improving brain function and relieving the mental fatigue that plagues many long COVID patients.

What is photobiomodulation therapy?

Photobiomodulation therapy, also known as low-level light therapy, involves exposing the body to specific wavelengths of light to stimulate healing at the cellular level. This can be done using devices such as transcranial helmets that target the brain directly or whole-body light beds that deliver the therapeutic wavelengths to the entire body. PBM is thought to work by enhancing mitochondrial function, reducing inflammation, increasing cerebral blood flow, and promoting neuroplasticity. By addressing these underlying mechanisms, PBM aims to boost cognitive performance and overall brain health.

The link between long COVID and brain fog

For many people, the cognitive symptoms of long COVID can be some of the most distressing and long-lasting effects of the illness. Common complaints include difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, mental fatigue, and a general feeling of sluggishness or "brain fog". These issues can make it challenging to work, socialize, and carry out daily tasks, significantly impacting quality of life.

While the exact causes of long COVID brain fog are still being investigated, theories include persistent inflammation, reduced blood flow to the brain, and disruptions in neurotransmitter function. Interestingly, many individuals experiencing these cognitive symptoms were relatively healthy before contracting COVID-19, indicating how long COVID may affect even those without prior health conditions. This suggests that the virus may have pushed them "over the edge" by exacerbating underlying health issues or vulnerabilities in the brain.

Emerging evidence on PBM for long COVID brain fog

A recent study by Bowen et al. (2023) offers promising insights into the potential of PBM for treating long COVID-related cognitive impairment. The researchers conducted a small, open-label trial involving 14 participants who had been experiencing brain fog for at least five months post-COVID. Half of the participants received transcranial PBM using a helmet device, while the other half underwent whole-body PBM in a light bed. All participants completed 12 sessions over four weeks.

The results were encouraging, with both the transcranial and whole-body PBM groups showing significant improvements in cognitive function as measured by neuropsychological tests and quantitative EEG (QEEG). Participants demonstrated faster reaction times, better memory and attention, and enhanced brain processing speed and power. While the study was limited by its small sample size and lack of a control group, these preliminary findings suggest that PBM could be a valuable tool in addressing long COVID brain fog.

Our practice uses the same Neuronic Neuradiant 1070 transcranial PBM device that was utilized in the Bowen study, ensuring that our clients receive the most up-to-date, evidence-based treatment for post-COVID conditions. In addition to PBM, we also employ Neurofield neuromodulation equipment for personalized neurotherapy. This cutting-edge technology allows us to address a wide range of symptoms and enhance overall cognitive performance. Whether you're looking to sharpen your focus, reduce stress, improve sleep, or even boost creativity, our tailored approach can help you achieve your goals.

Other research has also pointed to the potential cognitive benefits of PBM. Studies have shown that PBM may help alleviate symptoms of post-viral fatigue, a condition with similarities to long COVID. Additionally, PBM has been explored as a treatment for various neurological conditions, such as traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease, with promising results in terms of cognitive enhancement and neuroprotection.

Beyond brain fog

If you're experiencing persistent cognitive issues after recovering from COVID-19, it may be worth considering a quantitative EEG (QEEG) assessment. QEEG is a non-invasive brain mapping technique that measures the electrical activity of the brain, providing valuable insights into cognitive function and potential areas of dysfunction. COVID-19 took a toll on everyone, and in addition to brain fog, many people have developed challenges with emotional regulation and stress management.

At our practice, we use QEEG and ERP to identify specific patterns of brain activity that may be contributing to cognitive impairment, fatigue, stress, and other symptoms. This information can help guide targeted therapies, such as photobiomodulation or neurofeedback training, to optimize brain function and alleviate symptoms. Even if you haven't had COVID-19, a QEEG can be a useful tool for assessing overall brain health and identifying areas for improvement.

Don't let long COVID hold you back: Take action today

If you or someone you know is struggling with persistent brain fog or cognitive issues after COVID-19, photobiomodulation therapy may offer a safe and effective solution. The emerging research on PBM for long COVID is promising, suggesting that this non-invasive treatment can enhance brain function and provide much-needed relief from debilitating symptoms.

At our practice in downtown San Francisco, we are committed to staying at the forefront of innovative alternative health treatments for cognitive health. We invite you to schedule a consultation and QEEG assessment to determine if photobiomodulation or neurotherapy may be right for you. We will work with you to develop a personalized plan plan aimed at optimizing your brain function and quality of life.

As more research is conducted on the long-term effects of COVID-19 and potential therapies, we remain optimistic that options like photobiomodulation will continue to expand and improve the lives of those grappling with the challenges of long COVID. Don't hesitate to reach out and learn more about how we can support your journey to better brain health.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is long covid?

Long COVID, also known as post-COVID conditions, refers to a range of symptoms experienced by individuals weeks or months after initial COVID-19 infection.

Who is at risk of developing long covid?

People with long COVID may include those who had severe initial symptoms of COVID-19, older adults, and individuals with certain underlying health conditions.

What are the symptoms of long covid?

The symptoms of long COVID can vary widely and may include fatigue, shortness of breath, brain fog, muscle aches, and more prolonged issues like postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS).

Can covid-19 lead to long-term effects?

COVID-19 can lead to long-term effects in some individuals, resulting in post-acute COVID-19 or chronic COVID symptoms that persist beyond the acute phase of the illness.

How can one prevent long covid?

While there's no guaranteed way to prevent long COVID, taking precautions to prevent initial COVID-19 infection like wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and getting vaccinated can reduce the risk.

What is the management of long covid?

The management of long COVID often involves a multidisciplinary approach that may include symptom-specific treatments, physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other supportive measures.

Is treatment for long covid available?

Treatment for long COVID focuses on alleviating symptoms and improving quality of life. This may involve a combination of medications, therapies, and lifestyle modifications tailored to individual needs. Photobiomodulation has shown promise for reducing the long COVID brain fog symptoms.

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