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Evaluation of Adjunctive Photobiomodulation (PBMT) for COVID-19 Pneumonia via Clinical Status and Pulmonary Severity Indices in a Preliminary Trial

Authors Vetrici MA, Mokmeli S, Bohm AR, Monici M, Sigman SA

Received 12 January 2021

Accepted for publication 26 February 2021

Published 19 March 2021 Volume 2021:14 Pages 965—979

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JIR.S301625

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Ning Quan


Mariana A Vetrici,1,* Soheila Mokmeli,2,* Andrew R Bohm,3 Monica Monici,4 Scott A Sigman5,*

1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB, Canada; 2Training Institute, Canadian Optic and Laser Center, Victoria, BC, Canada; 3Department of Orthopedics, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, NY, USA; 4ASA Campus J.L., ASA Res. Division – Department of Experimental and Clinical Biomedical Sciences, University of Florence, Florence, Italy; 5Department of Orthopedics, Lowell General Hospital, Lowell, MA, 01863, USA

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Scott A Sigman
Department of Orthopedics, Lowell General Hospital, 295 Varnum Avenue, Lowell, MA, 01863, USA
Tel +1 978 856 7676
Email [email protected]

Purpose: Evidence-based and effective treatments for COVID-19 are limited, and a new wave of infections and deaths calls for novel, easily implemented treatment strategies. Photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) is a well-known adjunctive treatment for pain management, wound healing, lymphedema, and cellulitis. PBMT uses light to start a cascade of photochemical reactions that lead to local and systemic anti-inflammatory effects at multiple levels and that stimulate healing. Numerous empirical studies of PBMT for patients with pulmonary disease such as pneumonia, COPD and asthma suggest that PBMT is a safe and effective adjunctive treatment. Recent systematic reviews suggest that PBMT may be applied to target lung tissue in COVID-19 patients. In this preliminary study, we evaluated the effect of adjunctive PBMT on COVID-19 pneumonia and patient clinical status.
Patients and Methods: We present a small-scale clinical trial with 10 patients randomized to standard medical care or standard medical care plus adjunctive PBMT. The PBMT group received four daily sessions of near-infrared light treatment targeting the lung tissue via a Multiwave Locked System (MLS) laser. Patient outcomes were measured via blood work, chest x-rays, pulse oximetry and validated scoring tools for pneumonia.
Results: PBMT patients showed improvement on pulmonary indices such as SMART-COP, BCRSS, RALE, and CAP (Community-Acquired Pneumonia questionnaire). PBMT-treated patients showed rapid recovery, did not require ICU admission or mechanical ventilation, and reported no long-term sequelae at 5 months after treatment. In the control group, 60% of patients were admitted to the ICU for mechanical ventilation. The control group had an overall mortality of 40%. At a 5-month follow-up, 40% of the control group experienced long-term sequelae.
Conclusion: PBMT is a safe and effective potential treatment for COVID-19 pneumonia and improves clinical status in COVID-19 pneumonia.

Keywords: COVID-19, low-level laser therapy, pneumonia, SMART-COP, BCRSS, RALE

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