The start of an oxygen “dive” at Aviv Clinics feels familiar to anyone who’s ever flown on vacation – your ears popping every few seconds before settling in. Except this destination is unlike any other on the journey to redefine aging. Patients are departing Aviv’s cabins with healthier brains that function better and drive the body more ably. After all, Aviv does mean “spring.” “Our clients are telling us what is most important to their lifestyle as our clinicians help them achieve their goals,” said CEO Dave Globig, “particularly around cognitive strength, physical mobility and endurance, and the confidence to live a fulfilling independent lifestyle.”
The unique ways Aviv applies hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) along with attention to physical fitness, diet and mental health gives the body the chance to jump start its own ability to heal.
Most people would recognize HBOT to treat divers following rapid oxygen decompression or to heal severe wounds such as those in burn victims.
But Aviv’s treatment is at the forefront of the new longevity economy, helping people live better, longer.
Aviv treatment involves a comprehensive physical exam, brain scan and other medical assessments in areas from nutrition to sleep. Patients then participate in treatments for two hours a day, five days a week for 12 weeks in which they are given customized brain exercises tailored in accordance with their brain scans while breathing pure oxygen.
“We’re going to heal your body, and we’re going to put you into a better state,” Globig said of the treatment that also includes follow-up care. “We also want to help you keep it once you walk out the door.”
A year of breakthroughs for people ranging from stroke victims to professional athletes illustrate the rejuvenation Aviv can drive.
A combination of breathing 100% oxygen while being in a pressurized cabin allows the body to diffuse oxygen into tissues and plasma that lack sufficient blood flow, Globig said. This allows the body to naturally release its own stem cells from bone marrow, to heal an injured area.
And now early-stage Alzheimer’s patients have new reason for hope, according to a landmark peer-reviewed study of HBOT’s capabilities in treating the disease in early stages.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and is often associated with the build-up of a protein called amyloid-beta. It is a degenerative brain condition that destroys memory and a patient’s cognitive skills. The most advanced stages of Alzheimer’s eventually hinder patients from the ability to do simple tasks.
Signs of Alzheimer’s usually appear when a person is in their mid-60’s.
Patients in the groundbreaking study reported improvements in memory capacity, attention, and information processing speed after time with HBOT — the first non-drug therapy proven effective.
“We’re mapping out the path toward Alzheimer’s prevention,” said Dr. Shai Efrati, a professor at the Sagol School of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University, Israel, and Chairman of the medical advisory board to Aviv Clinics.
“The brain is an incredibly complex organism home to a network of nerve cells that depend on oxygen to thrive,” he said. “As we age, the number of blood vessels in the brain naturally begins to decline, leading to memory loss and deterioration of other mental functions. The study gives us hope that HBOT can be used as a viable drug-free and non-invasive method to prevent and treat early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.”
The results show an increase of 16-23% in the blood flow to the brain, which eases the burden created by amyloid plaque and helps blood vessels flow better, according to the study that appeared in the scientific journal Aging.
The next step is to see whether HBOT can reverse any symptoms of Alzheimer’s, a disease that cannot yet be treated.
“Let’s see what is the latest stage that we can treat someone – if human beings want to prevent Alzheimer’s, we have to start treatment when they still don’t have Alzheimer’s,” Efrati said. “That’s the take-home message: How far can we go? More research is underway to further demonstrate how HBOT can improve cognitive function and become an influential tool in the imperative fight against the disease.”
Aviv’s flagship clinic in Dubai is equipped with the world’s largest HBOT chambers in terms of capacity, but its clinic in The Villages is the only place in North America where HBOT is available beyond research trials.
Dr. Joseph Maroon, a former neurosurgeon at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, is a big believer after turning to Aviv this summer at age 81.
The longtime team neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers calls himself an “experiment of one” who, after treatment with Aviv, shaved 24 minutes off a triathlon he ran in September from one he ran in July.
HBOT also has applications for stroke patients, victims of brain injuries and sufferers of long-haul COVID-19, clinic officials said.
“I’m a great believer in this notion of combining care, because the data is pretty compelling,” said Dr. Elliot Sussman, chairman of The Villages Health, who has experienced HBOT himself.
Sussman recalled the difference Aviv’s program made in helping a stroke patient regain the ability to perform basic physical functions after physical therapy attempts plateaued.
“It’s not just living longer, it’s living better,” he said.
Aviv has methodically drawn experienced staff from around the nation for physical training, nutrition, mental health and more in addition to those who specialize in pressurized oxygen.
Patients with neurological impairment who have difficulty affording the treatment may qualify for subsidized support under the Aviv Cares program, Globig said.
It partners with local health care providers ranging from The Villages Health to Lake Medical Imaging, Lake Centre for Rehab physical therapy, The Villages Grown, The Villages Soccer and Polo Clubs, MVP Athletic Club and more.
“We knew the first location for Aviv Clinics had to be in a community that shared our dream, which is to improve the lives of our clients while we redefine the aging process,” Globig said. “It’s been a remarkably rewarding experience to work with the residents and businesses in The Villages to achieve just that. This is the ideal environment as we are among residents striving to live an active, healthy lifestyle.”