An experimental therapy that utilizes laser and light-emitting diode (LED) light may have implications for stroke treatment. The experimental therapy was recently conducted at the ATA Revitalization Institute, based in Easton, Pa. 

Ab Boonswang, MD, co-founder of ATA and cardio-thoracic surgeon at Easton Hospital, reports that he is enthusiastic about the potential for low-light therapy, also known as photobiomodulation, on stroke patients. Boonswang spotlights the therapy’s benefits based on several stroke patients of his that have undergone treatment and regained speech as well as physical function.

The therapy is “virtually unknown,” according to Paul A. Lapchak, PhD, director of translational research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Calif. Lapchak and other researchers say that the process may involve the absorption of light into the mitochondria, stimulating cells to regenerate. The theory for stroke patients, researchers explain, is that the new cells stimulated by light can heal areas of the brain damaged by the stroke.

Margaret Naeser, PhD, VA Boston Healthcare System, Mass, reports that she has studied and used laser and LED light on acupuncture points. Naeser adds that while everyone is optimistic about the treatment, lasers are not a substitute for other forms of therapy for stroke victims. 

“Patients would make more progress if they had alongside those therapies . . .acupuncture or laser therapy,” Naeser says.

Boonswang adds that although there is not yet a full understanding of how light therapy works, research and progress should not be sidelined simply because, “We don’t know everything. No physician . . .knows every minute detail of every little thing we do,” Boonswang says.

Patients at ATA currently pay out of pocket for the treatment, as it is also considered experimental by insurers. Initial visits are $160; subsequent visits can run up to $80, $90, or $110 depending upon frequency of treatment.

Source: The Morning Call