Photobiomodulation is the term used in medical circles for therapeutic laser or other light-emitting diode therapeutic devices such as the Photizo. It has been found that specific wavelengths of light can induce healing and repair in certain body tissues.
The premise on which light therapy/photobiomodulation works is that as the light bombards the skin certain parts of the cell, known as mitochondria, are able to absorb this light energy and convert it into cellular energy. This energy is then made available for repair.
The effects of photobiomodulation include an increase in the availability of energy. This energy, and certain chemicals produced, are then utilised to drive certain chemical cascades in the cell which are instrumental in repair. Light therapy causes vasodilation. This means that blood supply improves to the damaged site, oxygen delivery is increased as is the delivery of nutrients required by the cell to heal. Simultaneously, waste products of metabolism are removed. New blood vessels are encouraged to grow into the injured area further enhancing repair.
The body’s natural painkillers (endogenous opioids and endorphins) are released. These substances stimulate the same receptors in the body as morphine does thereby reducing pain. Pain receptors are suppressed and nerve transmission is reduced all of which assist in managing pain.
Light therapy can assist in the management of abscesses, inflammatory conditions like ear infections, acute musculoskeletal injury, burns and wounds. It has a role to play in the management of more chronic conditions like osteoarthritis and repetitive strain injuries. It is being used in hospital for the standard management of post-operative wounds and pain.
Much research has been conducted in the use and efficacy of light therapy. Results are predictable and reproducible. The time taken for each session is dependent on the power of the device, as well as the nature and depth of the injury. Laser therapy can be delivered safely and that it is a comfortable interaction for the patient or animal companion. If treating with the hand piece in contact with the skin, the massage-like effect is pleasurable. There is a pleasant, gentle warming sensation in the tissue. The primary safety consideration when using lasers is maintaining eye protection. The wavelengths used for laser therapy are easily absorbed by pigments and the therapist will adjust the setting if the companion has a dark coat or any tattoos in the areas to be treated. At Animal Health & Hydro we use the Globus PhysioLaser 1000.
Photobiomodulation is a safe, non-invasive therapy which greatly enhances patient recovery.