LED therapy may boost cognitive function after traumatic brain injury

Findings confirm that transcranial, LED-based light therapy used to treat two patients with long-standing traumatic brain injury (TBI) proved successful, according to a study published in the journal Photomedicine and Laser Surgery. Each patient applied LEDs nightly and demonstrated substantial improvement in cognitive function, including improved memory, inhibition, and ability to sustain attention and focus. One patient was able to discontinue medical disability and return to full-time work. These cognitive gains decreased if the patients stopped treatment for a few weeks and returned when treatment was restarted. Both patients are continuing LED treatments in the home.

Low-level light therapy using lasers or externally placed LEDs to deliver red and near-infrared (NIR) light energy has been shown in cell-based studies to improve cellular metabolism and to produce beneficial physiological effects. In acute stroke in humans, for example, transcranial NIR light therapy applied less than 24 hours post-stroke was associated with improved outcomes.

Raymond J. Lanzafame, MD, MBA, editor-in-chief of the journal, notes that these findings will provide a basis for future therapeutic use of phototherapy to improve recovery after injury and facilitate management of other CNS disorders. "The development of novel therapies to restore function after neurologic injury, stroke, or disease is an increasingly important goal in medical research as a result of an increase in non-fatal traumatic wounds and the increasing prevalence of dementias and other degenerative disorders in our aging population," he says.

The study is available online from Photomedicine and Laser Surgery.

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Posted by Lee Mather

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