Are you confused by manufacturers’ claims about the best laser therapy devices?
Are you skeptical of light therapy as a treatment modality? Your confusion is understandable—there have been mixed messages and unrealized claims about various medical light therapy devices.
A look at the research will help you better understand light therapy.
Shortly after the laser was invented in 1960, Endre Mester noticed that applying laser light to the backs of shaven mice caused their hair to grow back more quickly than in mice not exposed to the laser. He also observed that skin incisions appeared to heal faster on laser-treated animals. These findings initiated research to understand the effects of light on living cells and the mechanisms involved. Hundreds of scientific studies have been conducted in vitro to characterize the dosages needed to achieve a cellular response with light.
These studies give a baseline for the amount of laser energy needed to achieve results at the cellular level. Over the past 30 years, researchers have come to accept the term “photobiomodulation” to describe the process by which light stimulates or inhibits cell function. Many terms have been used to describe the therapeutic use of light devices.
One of the more frequently used terms has been low level
laser therapy (LLLT); however, devices that use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are not included in the term even though an LED-based device may be able to deliver an LLLT response. There was reluctance to adopt the term photobiomodulation because it was not a MeSH (Medical Subject Heading) search term. MeSH is contained in the National Library of Medicine’s controlled vocabulary, which consists of terms that are used to index articles in the world’s leading biomedical journals.
In 2014, a consensus nomenclature meeting was held and subsequently the term “photobiomodulation therapy” was chosen to be added to the MeSH database as an indexing term.
Photobiomodulation therapy is defined as the therapeutic use of light, absorbed by chromophores found in the body, to trigger nonthermal, non-harmful biological reactions that result in beneficial therapeutic outcomes.