Laser Therapy for Rehab
Russell Gunner, C.A.T. (C)
In today's fast paced society we are always looking for new ways of healing an injury faster so we can return to what we do quicker. Well, we have not quite reached the Star Trek stages of rehabilitation yet, but several years ago, they developed a new modality called Low Level Laser Therapy. The various therapeutic fields are finding that this is one new modality which is getting great results for various kinds of injuries that are seen within all sports.
What is Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)?
The laser is the latest and most advanced of our light sources. The word LASER is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is therefore a form of phototherapy or light therapy. This involves the application of low power light to areas of the body in order to stimulate healing. It is also known as cold laser, soft laser or low intensity laser. Therefore it will not burn the skin or tissue, like some lasers can.
How does it work?
Photons are emitted from the low power laser. These photon particles enter the tissues and are absorbed within the different levels of cells. The energy from the light is converted to chemical energy within those cells. The permeability of the cell membrane changes which in turn produces various physiological effects. This effect is considered non-thermal, meaning it is not heating up the tissue such as an ultrasound machine can. This increased production of cellular energy (ATP) can lead to normalization of cell function, pain relief and tissue healing.
The laser light source is placed so that it is in direct contact with the skin thereby allowing the photon energy to penetrate the required tissue. As with ultrasound, if it is not within contact of the skin, it would be impractical, as the light source would not be penetrating the tissue which required healing.
What is it used for?
• Soft tissue injuries, including sprains and strains, tendonitis and haematomas
• Joint conditions, including arthritis, tenosynovitis and capsulitis
• Chronic pain, including Trigeminal neuralgia and chronic neck and back pain
• Wound management, including skin ulcers, pressure sores and burns
• Skin infections, including cold sores, warts, verruca
Personally I find that the laser is incredibly effective with chronic conditions such as achilles tendonitis, tennis elbow and plantar fasciitis. The laser unit that we currently use at the clinic is called the Matrix laser system developed by PhotonX Health Corporation in Mississauga. The pictures are of this particular system.
If you have been for therapy for a particular injury and noticed that the clinic did not have a laser system, don't be shocked. The cost of a unit is incredibly expensive which is one reason why a majority of clinics do not own one. They can vary in cost from as low as $7000, and get up to over $30,000. Not many clinics around the area can afford a new $30,000 machine without being guaranteed of the return.
Laser is proving to be a big advantage in healing those nagging old injuries. Next time you are looking for some therapy, call ahead first and see if the clinic has a LLLT. If not, keep looking.