We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. This includes personalizing content and advertising. To learn more, click here. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies. Cookie Policy.

Features Partner Sites Information LinkXpress
Sign In
Advertise with Us

Download Mobile App

Low-Level Light Therapy Heals Serious Brain Injuries

By MedImaging International staff writers
Posted on 29 May 2024
Print article
Image: Functional MRI brain maps of resting-state functional connectivity in representative age- and sex-matched participants (Photo courtesy of Radiology; doi.org/10.1148/radiol.230999)
Image: Functional MRI brain maps of resting-state functional connectivity in representative age- and sex-matched participants (Photo courtesy of Radiology; doi.org/10.1148/radiol.230999)

Different wavelengths of light have been explored over the years for their potential to enhance wound healing. Now, a new study has found that low-level light therapy could have a beneficial effect on recovery in individuals who have experienced significant brain injuries.

In the study published in the journal Radiology, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH, Boston, MA, USA) administered low-level light therapy to 38 patients who had sustained moderate traumatic brain injuries—sufficiently severe to affect cognition or to be detectable via brain scan. The therapy was applied within 72 hours of injury using a helmet that emits near-infrared light. To assess the impact of this treatment, functional MRI scans were used, focusing on the brain's resting-state functional connectivity, which examines communication between brain regions when a person is not actively performing tasks. The MRI evaluations were conducted at different stages: within one week of the injury (acute phase), two to three weeks post-injury (subacute phase), and three months after injury (late-subacute phase).

Of the 38 patients, 21 did not receive light therapy while using the helmet; they served as controls to reduce bias related to patient characteristics and to avoid placebo effects. The findings showed that patients who received light therapy exhibited significantly more changes in resting-state connectivity between seven pairs of brain regions during the acute-to-subacute phase compared to the controls. This increased connectivity was most notable in the first two weeks. However, the researchers did not find long-term differences in connectivity between the two groups, indicating that while light therapy may boost brain connectivity initially, its enduring effects remain unclear. The exact mechanism by which light therapy impacts the brain is still under investigation, although it is believed to involve changes in an enzyme within the cell's mitochondria, leading to increased production of adenosine triphosphate, the energy storage and transfer molecule in cells.

Light therapy is also associated with the dilation of blood vessels and anti-inflammatory effects. Despite the increased connectivity observed in patients treated with light therapy during the acute to subacute phases, no significant differences in clinical outcomes were noted between the treated and control groups. Further studies with larger patient groups and extended imaging timelines beyond three months are needed to better understand the therapeutic potential of light in treating traumatic brain injuries. Researchers anticipate that the scope of light therapy will expand as more findings emerge. The 810-nanometer wavelength light used in this study is already used in various therapeutic contexts. It is safe, straightforward to administer, does not involve surgery or drugs, and can be used outside hospital settings due to the helmet's portability. It could find applications in treating several other neurological conditions such as PTSD, depression, and autism, which are all promising areas for light therapy.

Related Links:

Print article



view channel
Image: Physicians using the Zenition 90 Motorized mobile X-ray system (Photo courtesy of Royal Philips)

High-Powered Motorized Mobile C-Arm Delivers State-Of-The-Art Images for Challenging Procedures

During complex surgical procedures, clinicians depend on surgical imaging systems as they navigate challenging anatomy to quickly visualize small anatomical details while minimizing X-ray exposure.... Read more


view channel
Image: The device creates microbubbles that temporarily disrupt the BBB, permitting the entry of immunotherapy into the brain (Photo courtesy of Northwestern)

Ultrasound Technology Breaks Blood-Brain Barrier for Glioblastoma Treatment

Despite extensive molecular studies, the outlook for patients diagnosed with the aggressive brain cancer known as glioblastoma (GBM) continues to be poor. This is partly due to the blood-brain barrier... Read more

Nuclear Medicine

view channel
Image: 68Ga-NC-BCH whole-body PET imaging rapidly targets an important gastrointestinal cancer biomarker in lesions in GI cancer patients (Photo courtesy of Qi, Guo, et al.; doi.org/10.2967/jnumed.123.267110)

New PET Radiotracer Enables Same-Day Imaging of Key Gastrointestinal Cancer Biomarker

Gastrointestinal cancers rank among the most prevalent cancers worldwide, contributing to over a quarter of all cancer cases and over one-third of cancer-related deaths annually. The initial symptoms of... Read more

General/Advanced Imaging

view channel
Image: The denoised image is less noisy and the defect is more detectable and visually clearer with DEMIST (Photo courtesy of Abhinav Jha/WUSTL)

Artificial Intelligence Tool Enhances Usability of Medical Images

Doctors use myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) images to evaluate blood flow to the heart muscle. To capture these images, patients are administered a... Read more

Imaging IT

view channel
Image: The new Medical Imaging Suite makes healthcare imaging data more accessible, interoperable and useful (Photo courtesy of Google Cloud)

New Google Cloud Medical Imaging Suite Makes Imaging Healthcare Data More Accessible

Medical imaging is a critical tool used to diagnose patients, and there are billions of medical images scanned globally each year. Imaging data accounts for about 90% of all healthcare data1 and, until... Read more
Copyright © 2000-2024 Globetech Media. All rights reserved.