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A 57-Year-Old African American Man with Severe COVID-19 Pneumonia Who Responded to Supportive Photobiomodulation Therapy (PBMT): First Use of PBMT in COVID-19

Scott A. Sigman, Soheila Mokmeli, Monica Monici, Mariana A. Vetrici

(Team Physician, UMASS Lowell, Fellow of the World Society of Sports and Exercise Medicine, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Chelmsford, MA, USA)

Am J Case Rep 2020; 21:e926779

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.926779

BACKGROUND: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is associated with lung inflammation and cytokine storm. Photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) is a safe, non-invasive therapy with significant anti-inflammatory effects. Adjunct PBMT has been employed in treating patients with lung conditions. Human studies and experimental models of respiratory disease suggest PBMT reduces inflammation and promotes lung healing. This is the first time supportive PBMT was used in a severe case of COVID-19 pneumonia.
CASE REPORT: A 57-year-old African American man with severe COVID-19 received 4 once-daily PBMT sessions by a laser scanner with pulsed 808 nm and super-pulsed 905 nm modes for 28 min. The patient was evaluated before and after treatment via radiological assessment of lung edema (RALE) by CXR, pulmonary severity indices, blood tests, oxygen requirements, and patient questionnaires. Oxygen saturation (SpO₂) increased from 93-94% to 97-100%, while the oxygen requirement decreased from 2-4 L/min to 1 L/min. The RALE score improved from 8 to 5. The Pneumonia Severity Index improved from Class V (142) to Class II (67). Additional pulmonary indices (Brescia-COVID and SMART-COP) both decreased from 4 to 0. CRP normalized from 15.1 to 1.23. The patient reported substantial improvement in the Community-Acquired Pneumonia assessment tool.
CONCLUSIONS: This report has presented supportive PBMT in a patient with severe COVID-19 pneumonia. Respiratory indices, radiological findings, oxygen requirements, and patient outcomes improved over several days and without need for a ventilator. Future controlled clinical trials are required to evaluate the effects of PBMT on clinical outcomes in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia.

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