Revitalize your motor skills: Unleashing the power of simple oxygen treatment

A study reveals that brief treatment with 100% oxygen can greatly enhance motor skills in young adults, offering promising possibilities for those re-learning motor abilities affected by age or illness.

Let’s look into interesting research that was recently published in Frontiers in Neuroscience [1].

What is oxygen therapy?

Oxygen therapy involves receiving additional oxygen to improve your oxygen levels. This treatment can enhance your physical activity and overall well-being [2]. 

It is frequently administered in hospitals but can also be used in residential settings. Different devices are used to provide oxygen therapy at home.

Your healthcare provider will assist you in selecting the most suitable equipment for your needs. Oxygen is commonly administered through nasal prongs (an oxygen cannula) or a face mask. The oxygen equipment can be attached to other medical devices such as CPAP machines and ventilators.

Oxygen treatment and motor skills

Due to aging or following neurological events like strokes, people often need to re-learn daily functional motor movements. For instance, picking up a glass, walking and tying their shoes [3]. Motor tasks can be learned and re-learned by the brain, but that requires energy and energy requires oxygen.

Researchers from the German University of Health and Sports in Berlin conducted a study to investigate whether supplying individuals with 100% oxygen would impact their motor performance, given the significance of oxygen to brain function.

A group of 40 healthy individuals, all approximately 21 years of age, were randomly divided into two groups. One group received 100% oxygen at a rate of 5 liters per minute, while the other group received “medical-grade air” which contains the same 21% oxygen level as the air we normally breathe [4].

Participants completed a visuomotor exercise on a digital tablet. The exercise tested eye-to-hand transfer speed for mastering motor skills.

During their initial task practice, both groups received oxygen solely through a nasal cannula. Once they had learned the exercise, the targets and stylus were adjusted to assess their adaptability. The targets and stylus were then realigned to their original positions to observe how well the participants adapted to the change.

Results that appear promising

The study revealed that individuals given oxygen showed improved learning and performance. This progress continued even in subsequent sessions where oxygen was not provided.

They moved the stylus more precisely and adapted to changes in the target and stylus position more quickly. Notably, when the stylus was realigned to its original position, the group that received 100% oxygen made more significant errors, indicating that they had integrated the previous alignment more thoroughly than the group that received medical air.

The researchers plan to investigate the long-term effects of oxygen supplementation on learning and test it on other motor learning tasks. Based on the study’s findings, they say that their simple and easy-to-administer oxygen treatment could benefit those re-learning motor skills.

Learn more about this study from Frontiers in Neuroscience.

How about restricting oxygen?

On the contrary, there is such a thing as oxygen restriction. In a groundbreaking study, scientists have shown that restricting oxygen consumption – also known as “oxygen restriction” – can lead to longer lifespans in lab mice. This suggests that it could be a promising anti-aging treatment.

Robert Rogers and colleagues from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston shared their research findings in the open-access journal PLOS Biology [5].

Studies have found certain chemicals and methods, such as metformin or dietary restriction, that can increase the lifespan of laboratory animals healthily. Additionally, limiting oxygen intake has been linked to longer lifespans in yeast, nematodes and fruit flies, but its effects on mammals are unclear.


Photograph: Iakobchuk/Envato
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