Shai Efrati, MD, PhD: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Repairs Brain Tissue in Patients with Fibromyalgia

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Although the ultimate results of the study were unsurprising to Shai Efrati, MD, PhD, the magnitude of improvement was much higher than he and his team had anticipated.

In an interview with HCPLive, Shai Efrati, MD, PhD, co-Founder and Chair of Aviv Scientific’s Medical Advisory Board, discussed the clinical significance of the results of his study that evaluated the efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for patients with fibromyalgia induced by a traumatic brain injury1 and the next steps for his team. Efrati is also Founder and Director of the Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research at Shamir Medical Center, where he serves as Director of Research and Development and Head of Nephrology.

“We are repairing the damaged brain tissue that is responsible for the development of the disease,” Efrati stated. “With the unique protocol we have developed, we fluctuate oxygen and pressure to trigger the repair mechanism in the brain. This induces stem cell proliferation and new blood vessel generation, leading to the recovery of a wound in the brain. This is why the patients improve.”

Although the ultimate results were unsurprising, the magnitude of the improvement was much higher than Efrati and his team had anticipated.

“It's important to note that fibromyalgia is a real problem; it's not imagined or psychological,” Efrati explained. “The problem is in the brain, and the damage can be demonstrated through unique metabolic imaging of the brain. Those who are suffering from fibromyalgia should be referred to appropriate centers for evaluation with unique brain imaging. If the injury in the brain is found, we have a treatment that can help them regain their life back, which is a immensely important.”

The hyperbaric oxygen therapy protocol has been proven to repair certain types of brain damage, which can help stroke patients, people with multi-brain injuries, those with cognitive decline, and can improve symptoms in post-COVID patients. Looking towards the future, Efrati and his team aim to target different fibromyalgia groups, find better ways to predict who can benefit the most from the treatment, and optimize the treatment per individual for even better results.

“The clinical significance is that people can regain their functionality in their daily routine, they don't suffer from pain or limitations, and they can perform better each day,” Efrati concluded. “We want to improve the quality of life and cognitive ability of patients who suffer from fibromyalgia.”

Author Disclosures: Shai Efrati, MD, PhD, reports serving as a board member, with stock ownership, of Aviv Scientific.

This transcript was edited for clarity.

References

  1. Ablin JN, Lang E, Catalogna M, et al. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy compared to pharmacological intervention in fibromyalgia patients following traumatic brain injury: A randomized, controlled trial. PLoS One. 2023;18(3):e0282406. Published 2023 Mar 10. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0282406
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