Background: Long COVID is a common occurrence following COVID-19 infection. The most common symptom reported is fatigue. Limited interventional treatment options exist. We report the first evaluation of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) for long COVID treatment.
Methods: A total of 10 consecutive patients received 10 sessions of HBOT to 2.4 atmospheres over 12 days. Each treatment session lasted 105 minutes, consisting of three 30-minute exposures to 100% oxygen, interspersed with 5-minute air breaks. Validated fatigue and cognitive scoring assessments were performed at day 1 and 10. Statistical analysis was with Wilcoxon signed-rank testing reported alongside effect sizes.
Results: HBOT yielded a statistically significant improvement in the Chalder fatigue scale (p=0.0059; d=1.75 (very large)), global cognition (p=0.0137; d=-1.07 (large)), executive function (p=0.0039; d=-1.06 (large)), attention (p=0.0020; d=-1.2 (very large)), information processing (p=0.0059; d=-1.25 (very large)) and verbal function (p=0.0098; d=-0.92 (large)).
Conclusion: Long COVID-related fatigue can be debilitating, and may affect young people who were previously in economic employment. The results presented here suggest potential benefits of HBOT, with statistically significant results following 10 sessions.
Keywords: fatigue; hyperbaric oxygen therapy; long COVID.