Pulsed laser/LED treatment gets eagle flying again

July 1, 2010
When a four-month-old bald eagle was taken to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida (Naples, FL) in early May, it was unable to fly.

When a four-month-old bald eagle was taken to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida (Naples, FL) in early May, it was unable to fly. The cause of deep gashes on one wing and leg, a wounded tail, and missing feathers, is unknown.

"It has really horrific wounds on its wing and leg. If it doesn't heal, it will be a permanent resident" at the rehab center, said Mark Strong, a regional representative for Multi Radiance Medical (Solon, OH; www.multiradiance.com), told Southwest Florida's News-Press Media. When he heard about the bird, he volunteered to administer the Multi Radiance TQ Solo, which Strong describes as a laser that has been used to treat professional sports injuries for years. To stimulate cells for pain relief and faster healing, the device uses four energy modes: a 15 W, 905 nm super-pulsed laser; 60 mW, 875 nm infrared LED; 7.5 mW, 660 nm red LED; and a static magnetic field.

For each treatment, which lasts about five minutes, Center director Joanna Fitzgerald Vaught wrapped the eagle's head in a towel to keep it calm. Then, Strong ran the laser back and forth over the wounds. Eight treatments were planned, and Vaught said she began to see improvement in the deep gashes early on. "It's flying great," she told BioOptics World in early June, noting that the bird had improved to the point "where we don't have to check its wounds every day," and "we're only doing lasers [treatments] every four days."

"The laser seems to have done well," Vaught added. Now she is looking to use it on more cases.

New cigarette tax promising for laser-based smoking cessation therapy

The South Carolina Legislature voted in early May to override the governor's veto and increase the state's cigarette tax by 50 cents, making it 57 cents per pack—a move that Anne Penman Laser Therapy (Glasgow, Scotland; www.annepenman.com) predicts will increase business. Because research indicates that consumption falls by about 4% for every 10% of cigarette price increase (tax is one of the most effective incentives for smoking cessation), the legislation is expected to encourage 12,800 adults to quit.

According to Rich Miller, co-owner and certified laser technician at the Charlotte, NC-based Anne Penman center, laser-based therapy offers a safe, effective and quick solution. He explains that normally, when a smoker quits, a sudden drop in endorphin levels leads to withdrawal symptoms. But the laser stimulates "the increased endorphin levels a smoker experiences when he or she lights up."

In fact, the laser therapy boosts endorphin levels further than cigarettes do, and maintains them, according to Miller, over the 48–72 hour period it takes to end the body's physical addiction to nicotine.

The acupuncture-inspired therapy—which involves application of a 30 mW infrared laser to 35 energy points on the hands, ears, nose and wrists—is done in three sessions no more than 48 hours apart. For the first session, the laser is applied for 60 seconds to each point; during the two follow-up sessions, the energy is applied for 30 seconds per point.

But laser treatment is not the end of the therapy; Anne Penman centers also provide ongoing counseling (including a 24-hour helpline answered by the patient's treatment center) to "discuss triggers and behavior maintenance," Miller says. The longer-term support is part of measurement and monthly reporting to the Independent Investigational Review Board (IIRB).

Because of FDA approval activities, Anne Penman Laser Therapy cannot quote success rates, but Miller says they approximate double that of "a drug that is heavily promoted for smoking cessation."

Anne Penman, a former three-pack-a-day smoker and author of peer-reviewed studies on tobacco and laser therapy, developed the program in 1992 and brought it from Scotland to America more than six years ago. There are 16 Anne Penman Laser Therapy centers in the U.S. and three international centers; besides smoking cessation, the centers apply laser therapy to weight loss and stress management.

About the Author

Barbara Gefvert | Editor-in-Chief, BioOptics World (2008-2020)

Barbara G. Gefvert has been a science and technology editor and writer since 1987, and served as editor in chief on multiple publications, including Sensors magazine for nearly a decade.

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