What is meant by the term "long COVID"?
A coronavirus infection can mean different things to different people. Some don’t notice the infection at all, others get mildly ill and recover quickly. Still others who are infected fight a severe, protracted course that has even been fatal for many people.
Almost 1 in 3 patients was still short of breath 12 months after contracting COVID-19, 1 in 5 felt listless, and more than 1 in 4 suffered from anxiety disorders or depression, according to a Chinese study published in August 2021 in the journal “The Lancet”. These long-term consequences due to COVID-19 are called long COVID-19 or sometimes post COVID-19.
In 5.8% of those affected, long COVID is accompanied by long-term sick leave, according to the German-language journal Deutsches Ärzteblatt. Almost half of patients affected by long COVID (45%) are unable to work full time even after six months. Twenty-two percent are unable to work at all or must retire early. For public health, this presents a major economic challenge.
Prof. Dr. Bernhard Sabel
"Optimizing cognitive performance using microcurrent is core to our therapy and part of a holistic treatment for Long-COVID. Since there has been no effective short-term therapy for patients whose thinking and concentration skills have declined, SAVIR therapy is an innovative approach that can normalize blood flow to the brain and also to the eyes. More blood means more oxygen for our little gray cells. To achieve this, we combine conventional medical science with findings from modern brain research and traditional medicine procedures."
What causes long COVID?
Both a viral infection and a vaccination against that infection can lead to long COVID, but the reasons are not yet clear. Some acute infections cause organ damage, such as pulmonary artery emboli, whose symptoms can persist for a long time.
Another explanation is that viral components or whole viruses remain in the body after the acute infection, causing further inflammatory reactions which can persist for longer periods of time.
When the blood vessels swell due to inflammation, blood flow is reduced and their dilation ability (expansion in response to increased energy demand) is reduced or does not occur at all. This is a particular problem in the brain and in the eyes, as they have many small blood vessels (microcirculation). The lack of oxygen supply to the brain is then the reason for the fatigue, slowed thinking, or lack of attention.
What are the symptoms of long COVID?
Just as the acute course of COVID-19 infection is diverse, so is the course of long COVID. The most common long-term health consequences of a COVID-19 infection are fatigue, exhaustion, reduced resilience, shortness of breath, sleep disorders, muscle weakness, and muscle pain. Other frequent long-term consequences after a survived infection are visual impairments and cognitive deficits such as concentration and memory disorders.
Overall, long COVID considerably impairs patients’ quality of life and their ability to work.
How is long COVID treated?
Since the causes and symptoms of the disease are so varied, there is as yet no causal therapy for the treatment of long COVID. Attending physicians are creating treatment concepts based on their patients’ symptoms.
Drugs, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, and relaxation are currently the only approaches to alleviate the symptoms. But the treatments usually take weeks to several months and often show little satisfactory improvement.
How can the SAVIR therapy help with long COVID?
The SAVIR therapy uses the healing effect of microcurrent, which restores the blood flow regulation of the microcirculation (dilation) of the blood vessels in the brain to normal, thus restoring the plasticity (adaptability) of the brain. The therapy ensures that the brain’s highly complex network of nerve cell connections is fully functioning again, restoring rapid and precise stimulus processing in vision and thought.
The SAVIR therapy can achieve clearly noticeable improvements in a few days for various visual disorders of the eyes and for cognitive impairments in the brain (attention, memory, fatigue). Vision is improved and thinking (cognition) works again.
Based on many years of research in the field of visual impairment and the beneficial effects of microcurrent therapy, the SAVIR Center in Magdeburg, Germany, documented the cases of two patients with pronounced long COVID symptoms. The results of the treatment are impressive and give affected patients reason for hope. Both patients were able to return to work and manage their households after the therapy.
Case studies of long COVID treatment with SAVIR
Several patients with long COVID symptoms have now been treated at the SAVIR Center in Magdeburg. Two women had particularly impressive results. They were 40 and 72 years old, and neither had any relevant medical history.
The causes of their long COVID symptoms were a COVID-19 infection in the first patient (A.H.) and a vaccination with the vector vaccine from AstraZeneca in the second (G.B.). Both women subjectively complained about limitations in their vision as well as massive cognitive impairments, which were objectively confirmed by SAVIR in collaboration with the BG Clinic in Hamburg, Germany.
The patients were treated independently with the holistic (systemic) SAVIR method at the SAVIR Center for 10 and 13 days, respectively. The SAVIR therapy is primarily based on daily treatments with noninvasive, transcranial electrostimulation using an SASm microcurrent stimulator, which is CE-certified according to the EU Medical Device Regulation (MDR).
Both patients recovered significantly, and surprisingly quickly: Both their visual performance and cognitive functions subjectively improved within three to four days. Significant improvements in their visual abilities and cognition were also documented objectively. The respective measurements of their visual fields confirmed the findings. Patient A.H.’s cognitive performance was measured as well, and a significant improvement was confirmed as a result of the SAVIR treatment.
Why SAVIR’s long COVID treatment works
COVID-19 is primarily a disease of the blood vessels and the mast cells of the blood itself. Coronaviruses affect, among others, the cells of the innermost layers of the blood vessels (endothelial cells) and mast cells thus disrupt blood circulation, in the worst case causing thrombosis. The microcirculation disorders particularly affect small blood vessels, which can be observed using a modern imaging technique (DVA).
This dysregulation of the blood vessels leads to an undersupply of oxygen and other nourishing substances such as glucose to the corresponding tissues, which can explain the long COVID symptoms of the eyes and brain.
The two case studies show that the SAVIR therapy can achieve normalization of a patient’s vascular regulatory capacity, which can lead to recovery of their visual abilities and improvement in their cognitive performance.
Since the underlying mechanism is thought to be dysregulation of the blood vessels, especially the draining venous vessels, SAVIR compared the results of dynamic vessel analysis before and after treatment. It was determined that the venous vessels dilated better after the SAVIR therapy. Just as the fuel valve has to be opened for a car to accelerate, the blood vessels have to dilate for oxygen to reach the eyes and, especially, the brain.
As demonstrated in the two initial case studies, the SAVIR technology and its noninvasive brain stimulation has made it possible for the first time to successfully treat long-term visual and cognitive symptoms of COVID-19. The presumed mechanism behind this is a restoration of the dysregulation of the cranial blood vessels caused by the viral infection.
Presumably, the measurable ability of venous vessels to dilate after treatment is largely responsible for restoring normal blood flow. As a result, neurons can again be adequately supplied with oxygen and other necessary metabolites so they resume their normal, physiological function. They wake up again. This could explain the rapid improvement of the deficits.
The results of these case studies have been published (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8764598/). The SAVIR Center, working with the BG-Clinic in Hamburg, is planning new clinical studies that will start soon.
The experiences of both patients confirm decades of research by the working group of Professor Bernhard Sabel at Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg and other researchers: Visual field defects and cognitive performance of the brain can be initiated to recover using microcurrent stimulation. In this respect, the results of the two aforementioned long COVID cases do not come as a complete surprise.
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