Annually, on May 16, the United Nations celebrates the International Day of Light. This ensures that we may, at least once a year, appreciate the importance of this often taken for granted resource. Though agriculture, technology, communication and education are all highly dependent, there is no field in which light will play as critical of role as in the future of medicine.
The field of Veterinary Medicine has been a leader in adapting Photobiomodulation, previously known as Low Level Laser Therapy, to treat a variety of diseases. This science uses relatively low energy intensities from light emitting diodes (LEDs) and low power lasers to improve the quality of life of animals that suffer from many of the same diseases as humans. It is estimated that upwards of twenty percent of all veterinary practices now have access to what is commonly referred to as Light Therapy.
Photobiomodulation uses light of specific wavelength, intensity and frequency to enhance activity within cells that comprise all tissues. Although muscles and joints have a different cellular makeup than kidneys or nerves, all are dependent on mitochondria. These microscopic structures manufacture energy in the form of ATP upon which all bodily processes are dependent. We cannot breathe, digest, think or move without ATP. Disease, injury, cancer or even side effects from medications, cause our cells to become stressed. This so called “oxidative stress” interferes with the production of ATP, without which our body cannot function properly. Light absorption into cells and subsequently mitochondria, is one of the only known processes by which cellular energy production can be restored.
Though initially used for its anti-inflammatory properties to treat aches, pains and injuries in soft tissues, bones and joints, the past ten years has seen an explosion in the pathologies to which Photobiomodulation has been applied. Chronic Kidney Disease, Pancreatitis, Traumatic Brain Injury and Intervertebral Disc Disease are only a few of previously elusive diseases that were lacking in proactive treatment. Light Therapy has dramatically changed the approach as well as the dialogue that ensues when facing these conditions. As these treatments have become more well known in Veterinary Medicine, the crossover to human patients has become inevitable. Frequently when pet owners see the improvement in the quality of life of their four-legged companions, the first question becomes; “where I can get treated?”.
On Wednesday, May 16, 2018, the International Day of Light will be upon us. For the tens of thousands of patients, pet owners and families that have witnessed the dramatic benefits of Photobiomodulation, let’s all remind ourselves that this energy, derived from sunlight, should not be taken for granted. It is as much our lifeblood as the fluids that flow through our veins.
Without light………there can be no life.