Clinical Applications

Australian premiership footballer Nick Maxwell talks about the benefits of laser therapy for professional athletes.

Laser technology in health care and medicine

Over the past 2 decades the application of laser technology for medical procedures and surgery has increased and many cosmetic procedures now incorporate the use of high powered lasers for the removal of benign skin lesions, brown pigmented and vascular surface blemishes, as well as skin photorejuvenation and hair removal using High Level Laser Therapy (HLLT).

The degree of temperature increase within tissues is dependent on the high watt power of the laser being used and how long the tissue is exposed to the laser light to induce varying thermal reactions that range from protein denaturation, coagulation, vapourisation and carbonisation of living tissue.

However there is a second method of laser application, involving the use of  laser devices operating with extremely low power outputs within the milliwatt range (mW) to transmit  laser light energy at very low dosages, incapable of causing thermal tissue reactions, because this small amount of light energy has not been consumed as part of a photothermal reaction in the first few millimeters (mm) of skin tissue and is commonly known as Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) (Simmunovic 2000, Tuner and Hode 2002).

LLLT helps cells to make their own usable energy in a part of the cell called the mitochondria, which is responsible for producing adenosine triphosphate (ATP) for energy, which is necessary for cells to function and regenerate and the flow on of secondary effects downstream have been shown to occur via natural light - induced chemical reactions that support physiological activity and the promotion of tissue healing and reduction of inflammation and pain which is now termed photobiomodulation.

Effective LLLT treatment is reliant upon the correct treatment protocols and laser dosimetry involving correct wavelengths (nm), energy dosage (joules) and frequencies, as well as the appropriate number of treatment sessions, when treating various conditions involving different types of cells and tissues. (Hesketh et al 1987,  Brown 1992, Karu 2002).

Research studies examining the effects of LLLT on wound healing using scanning electron microscopy clearly indicate enhanced metabolic changes following exposure to very low levels of laser light, when compared to non-laser treated wounds. LLLT treated wounds exhibit an accelerated state of healing and a more organised tissue structure, with greater tensile strength and vascularity, and these effects are comparable in both humans and animals (Mester 1976).

 Professor Endre Mester began studying the biomodulating effects of low level laser therapy (LLLT) on human tissue at Semmelweiss University in Budapest in 1965, which resulted in in over 100 published scientific papers and the establishment of the first laser therapy clinic in Budapest for the treatment of nonhealing ulcers (Mester 1976). Despite the shortcomings in past research, both laboratory and clinical research investigating the effects of LLLT has continued worldwide, producing an ever increasing number of positive, high quality, well designed studies in this emerging field of laser phototherapy and photomedicine. This has led to the clinical implementation of LLLT within medical and healthcare facilities throughout the world and at this point in time the United States senate/congress findings which have now supported new technologies, especially photobiomodulation (PBM) for pain management.

LLLT is being utilised, but not limited to the treatment of:

  • Acute / Chronic  Pain Relief (Prokopowisch et al 2005., Gur et al 2004., Lizzarelli et al 2005)
  • Arthritis / Musculoskeletal conditions (Xu Xiao -Yang, Zhao Xiu –Feng et al 2006., Soriano F, Campana V, Moya M, Gavotto A et al  2006., Bjordal et al 2008.,Hegedus et al 2009)
  • Ulcer / Wound Healing (Ozcelik et al 2008., Al-Anazi et al 2008.,Minatel et al 2009)
  • Spinal / Nerve Injury (Byrnes K.R, Waynant R W, Ilev I K, Wu X et al 2005., Rochkind et al 2007., Moges et al 2011)
  • Atopic dermatitis (Morita H. et al Keio J Med 1993)
  • Tissue Trauma (Giuliani A, Fernandez M, Farinelli M, Barotto L et al  2004., Gerbi et al 2008))
  • Lympoedema (G. David Baxter, Lizhou Liu, Steve Tumilty 2017)
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases (Trimmer et al 2009., Shaw et al 2010)
  • Psychological (Schiffer et al 2009,
  • Support for Stem Cell Therapy (Anwer et al 2012., AlGandi A.,Kumar, A., and Moussa, N.A. 2012
  • Post Stroke (Lapchak,P.A. 2010.)
  • Cardiology (Tuby,H., Maltz, L., and Oron, U. 2002.,  Zhang et al 2009., Yang et al 2011)
  • Support Therapy For Cancer Therapy Induced Mucositis (Bjordal et al 2011)