Transcranial LLLT for Chronic mild Traumatic Brain Injury

The VA, Boston University and Harvard Medical School published the results of a Transcranial LLLT (LED) pilot study on mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Incredibly; TBI is a leading cause of death and disability among children and young adults in the United States. Each year an estimated 1.5 million Americans sustain a TBI, 50,000 people die as a consequence, 230,000 are hospitalized and an estimated 5.3 million currently live with a permanent TBI-related disability (because there is no cure). This study showed significant improvement in Executive Function, Verbal Learning, Long Delay Free Recall and fewer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Participants and family reported better ability to perform social, interpersonal, and occupational functions. This was a small pilot study on just eleven patients with chronic mTBI, there was no placebo control group so further studies are necessary to truly establish the effect size.

Significant improvements on cognitive performance post- transcranial, red/near-infrared LED treatments in chronic, mild TBI: Open-protocol study.

Naeser MA, Zafonte R, Krengel MH, Martin PI, Frazier J, Hamblin M, Knight JA, Meehan W, Baker EH

VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts, United States

This pilot, open-protocol study examined whether scalp application of red and near-infrared (NIR) light-emitting diodes (LED) could improve cognition in patients with chronic, mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Application of red/NIR light improves mitochondrial function (especially in hypoxic/compromised cells) promoting increased ATP important for cellular metabolism. Nitric oxide is released locally, increasing regional cerebral blood flow. LED therapy is non-invasive, painless, and non-thermal (FDA-cleared, non-significant risk device). Eleven chronic, mTBI participants (26-62 Yr, 6M) with non-penetrating head injury and persistent cognitive dysfunction were treated for 18 outpatient sessions (MWF, 6 Wks), starting at 10 Mo to 8 Yr post- mTBI (MVA or sports-related; and one participant, IED blast injury). Four had a history of multiple concussions. Each LED cluster head (2.1″ diameter, 500mW, 22.2mW/cm2) was applied for 10 min to each of 11 scalp placements (13 J/cm2). LEDs were placed on the midline from front-to-back hairline; and bilaterally on frontal, parietal, and temporal areas. Neuropsychological testing was performed pre- LED, and at 1 Wk, 1 and 2 Mo post- the 18th treatment. A significant linear trend was observed for the effect of LED treatment over time for Stroop test for Executive Function, Trial 3 inhibition (p=.004); Stroop, Trial 4 inhibition switching (p=.003); California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT)-II, Total Trials 1-5 (p=.003); and CVLT-II, Long Delay Free Recall (p=.006). Participants reported improved sleep, and fewer PTSD symptoms, if present. Participants and family reported better ability to perform social, interpersonal and occupational functions. These open-protocol data suggest placebo controlled studies are warranted.

J Neurotrauma 2014 Feb 25

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About James Carroll

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