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Innovative treatment in a pressure chamber may improve the cognitive function of healthy elderly people

This is according to a joint study by Tel Aviv University and the Shamir Medical Center (Assaf Harofeh) * This is the first study that indicates the strengthening of brain function and the improvement of cognitive abilities of healthy adults as a result of innovative treatment in a pressure chamber (exposure to pure oxygen at high pressure) * The main areas in which the improvement is evident are attention, Information processing speed, executive functions as well as overall cognitive function - all of which weaken in many cases as part of the normal aging process 

Pressure chamber in a hospital. Photo: shutterstock
Pressure chamber in a hospital. Photo: shutterstock

The Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research at the Shamir Medical Center (Assaf Harofeh), and the Faculty of Medicine and the Sagol School of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University are reporting today on a new study that shows, for the first time in humans, that treatment in a pressure chamber using pure oxygen at high pressure can significantly improve their cognitive function of healthy elderly people.

The main areas where the improvement is evident are attention, information processing speed, executive functions as well as overall cognitive function - all of which weaken in many cases as part of the normal aging process. Also, a significant correlation was observed between cognitive changes and improvement in blood flow in the places in the brain responsible for these functions. The study was conducted by Prof. Shai Efrati, head of the Segol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research, and head of the research system at the Shamir Medical Center (Assaf Harofeh), and a faculty member at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Segol School of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University and Dr. Amir Hadani Center Segol for Suburban Medicine and Research, Shamir Medical Center (Assaf Harofeh)

The study was published on 15.7.2020 in the scientific journal Aging Under the title: Cognitive enhancement of healthy older adults using hyperbaric oxygen: a randomized controlled trial.

Prof. Shay Efrati and Dr. Amir Hadani designed the study based on a unique protocol for treating a pressure chamber, which was developed at the Sagol Center during the last decade. 63 healthy people over the age of 64 participated in a randomized controlled clinical trial. 33 of them were treated in a pressure chamber for three months, and 30 served as a control group.
The cognitive function of all participants was measured using a uniform, comprehensive and computerized battery of cognitive assessments - before and after the intervention period. The assessment of blood flow in the brain was performed using an innovative MRI technique to test blood flow in the small blood vessels in the brain (perfusion).

"Cognitive and functional decline as a result of increasing age has become a significant problem in the Western world. "Extensive research efforts all over the world are focused on improving cognitive performance among the 'normal' aging population," says Prof. Efrati. "In our study, conducted for the first time in humans, we discovered a safe and effective medical intervention that can address the unwanted consequences of the expected functional decline as a result of the normal aging process."

"During years of research we have developed and advanced an understanding of dedicated protocols for the treatment of a pressure cell that can lead to the renewal of cerebral blood vessels (angiogenesis) and cerebral neuroplasia. In the past, we have shown the potential inherent in this treatment to improve/treat brain damage resulting from a stroke, injury or prolonged lack of oxygen, by increasing blood flow and metabolism in the brain," explains Dr. Amir Hadani. "The current research is a landmark, and may have a profound impact on how we treat the aging process and the ability to treat its symptoms."

During the treatment, the patient inhales clean oxygen in a pressure chamber where the air pressure is double that prevailing in the normal environment. This process increases the solubility of oxygen in the blood flowing through the body. While inside the cell, changes are made for limited periods of time in the oxygen concentrations that lead to the release of growth factors and proliferation of stem cells that promote the healing of the tissue. As of today, the evidence for the regenerative effect of pressure chamber treatment is increasing. The researchers showed that a combination of high oxygen levels (hyperoxia) and high pressure (hyperbaric environment) results in a significant improvement in tissue oxygenation and activates both oxygen-sensitive and stress-responsive genes. As a result, tissue metabolism is improved and restored. Moreover, the same genes drive the rapid proliferation of stem cells, reduce inflammation, induce the production of new blood vessels and activate tissue repair mechanisms.

"Clogging of small blood vessels, similar to the blockages that form in the plumbing of an 'aging' house, is a central element in the aging process of humans. Therefore, we hypothesized that the creation of new blood vessels in the brain by treatment in a pressure chamber may affect brain performance in the elderly population," explains Prof. Efrati. "We discovered that the pressure chamber treatment significantly increases blood flow in the brain, in correlation with cognitive improvement - which confirms our hypothesis. It can be assumed that this type of treatment may also have a beneficial effect on other organs in the aging body. We intend to examine this in future studies."

Prof. Efrati and Dr. Hadani point out that the protocol is a unique protocol that can only be given in well-organized centers with large cells that allow the changes in oxygen concentrations, while sitting in the cell, necessary to stimulate the creation of stem cells and the healing of brain tissue. "Unfortunately, today in Israel and in the world there are many charlatans who use inflatable bags, which they call pressure chambers. These bags do not allow the therapeutic protocol required for healing, they are without quality control, can transfer infections between patients, are dangerous to anyone who enters them and the environment due to the risk of fire and are operated by charlatans without the approval of the Ministry of Health. It is very important to be careful of them."

The head of the research group, Prof. Shai Efrati, who serves as director of the Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research at the Shamir Medical Center (Assaf Harofeh), and a faculty member at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Sagol School of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University, says that more hyperbaric centers are now being opened in the world The workers in the synopsis and cooperation with the Sagol Center with the aim of improving brain and physical performance of elderly people based on the therapeutic protocol developed in Israel. The first largest center in the US opened and started working in Florida about a month ago.

More on the subject on the science website

5 תגובות

  1. A turn in 2565 maybe...

    After all, it has long been clear that it helps not only the elderly, but also diabetics, dementia sufferers and those recovering from brain surgery, tumor removal, treatment of chronic wounds, etc., etc.

    Longing for a turn maybe another 500 years...

  2. There is nothing new here, this has been known for many years, decades. It is not clear why this is on the science website at all, someone messed up by uploading something known and proven for years as "news"

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