Photobiomodulation, also known as low level laser therapy (LLLT), is an emerging medical and veterinary technique in
which exposure to low-level laser light or light emitting diodes stimulate cellular function leading to beneficial clinical effects.
How does Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) work?
Every eukaryotic cell in an animal’s body has one or many thousand cellular power plants called the mitochondrion.
These mitochondria are responsible for providing most of the required ATP for cells. ATP is the chemical responsible
for energy release within cells that drives a multitude of cellular and physiological functions
including those directly related to injury repair and pain relief.
When a cell is damaged through injury or trauma, the mitochondrion,
figuratively speaking, curls up like a hedgehog. Once this happens, the production of ATP is drastically reduced,
or even ceased. As a result, the rate of healing slows dramatically. Cells exposed to infra-red light (Low Level Laser Therapy)
at the right frequency, causes the mitochondrion to spring into action almost immediately producing increased amounts of ADP.
The ADP then links with free oxygen singlets to produce ATP. Again, infra-red light increases the production
of ATP in damaged or resting mitochondria.
What is Laser Therapy?
Laser Therapy is the application of red light and near infrared radiation over injuries or lesions to stimulate healing
and relieve pain without sensation or side effects. It is popularly used for the treatment of sports injuries,
several different chronic pain syndromes and non-healing wounds such as venous and diabetic ulcers.
Many new applications for this treatment are being used and investigated including smoking cessation, weight loss,
addiction therapy, nerve regeneration for spinal cord injuries, and muscle atrophy for astronauts on long term space missions.
The term adopted by NASA and U.S. military scientists is Photobiomodulation.
Effectiveness of Laser Therapy depends on the color of the light (wavelength), intensity, and total energy delivered.
- Light Emitting Diode
- One color (monochromatic) and waves not in phase (non-coherent)
- Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation
- One color (monochromatic) and waves in phase (coherent)
Effectiveness wholly depends on the type of light (wavelength) used, intensity, and total energy (Joules/cm2) delivered.
Too much or too little energy delivered to injured site can be non-effective. Successful healing is dependant on
the correct treatment protocols. PanMedica is at the forefront of protocol development by with partnering with major
research hospitals, physicians, dentists and veterinarians in developing treatment protocols across all aspects of
medical, dental, addiction and veterinary therapies.
The correct dose of laser irradiation can improve the rate and quality of acute and chronic wound healing,
pain relief, inflammation, immune system functioning and nerve regeneration.
For a more in-depth understanding, please read the following from NASA research.
Low Level Laser Therapy Clinical Applications
NASA research further explains:
“Low-energy photon irradiation by light in the far-red to near-IR spectral range with low-energy (LLLT) lasers or
LED arrays has been found to modulate various biological processes in cell culture and animal models.
This phenomenon of photobiomodulation has been applied clinically in the treatment of soft tissue injuries and
the acceleration of wound healing. The mechanism of photobiomodulation by red to near-IR light at the cellular level has been
ascribed to the activation of mitochondrial respiratory chain components, resulting in initiation of a signaling cascade that
promotes cellular proliferation and cytoprotection.”
“A growing body of evidence suggests that cytochrome oxidase is a key photoacceptor of light
in the far-red to near-IR spectral range. Cytochrome oxidase is an integral membrane protein that
contains four redox active metal centers and has a strong absorbency in the far-red to
near-IR spectral range detectable in vivo by near-IR spectroscopy.”
“Moreover, 660–680 nm of irradiation has been shown to increase electron transfer in purified cytochrome oxidase,
increase mitochondrial respiration and ATP synthesis in isolated mitochondria,
and up-regulate cytochrome oxidase activity in cultured neuronal cells.”
“LED photostimulation induces a cascade of signaling events initiated by the initial absorption of light by cytochrome oxidase.
These signaling events may include the activation of immediate early genes, transcription factors,
cytochrome oxidase subunit gene expression, and a host of other enzymes and pathways related to increased oxidative metabolism.”
“In addition to increased oxidative metabolism, red to near-IR light stimulation of mitochondrial electron transfer
is known to increase the generation of reactive oxygen species. These mitochondrially generated reactive oxygen species
may function as signaling molecules to provide communication between mitochondria and the cysts and nucleus.”
Therapeutic photobiomodulation for methanol-induced retinal toxicity.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Mar18; 100(6): 3439-44. Epub 2003 Mar 07.
For more information, visit the following sites:
World Association for Laser Therapy (WALT)
The North American Association For Laser Therapy
Laser Institute of America