We’ve written about LumiWave before; the company makes arrays of infrared-emitting LEDs to provide pain relief and speed healing. The company has scientific research that shows this treatment can be beneficial even for bone fractures and hard-to-heal tissues such as the Achilles tendon. I wanted to make sure that I scheduled time to meet with representatives of the company at CES 2017to get the latest news. I was not expecting to hear about one of the most intriguing developments that I would find that week.
We talked first about how professional sports teams are using LumiWave not just to heal muscle damage, but to help athletes warm their muscles prior to games. Baseball teams are using it to treat their pitchers’ arms. A golfer on the Senior Tour uses it for golfer’s elbow. Then the conversation took an unexpected turn; the treatment also appears to have a positive effect on patients who have been diagnosed with concussion.
LumiWave has been involved in a number of studies, but one in particular stood out. Researchers identified a group of high school athletes who had suffered a concussion in the past, and then created a similar control group of students who had never been diagnosed with a concussion. One aspect of the study showed that subjects who have had a concussion show a lower voltage during brain activity, and this difference correlated well between the two groups (with one notable exception). Both groups were treated using LumiWave devices for a period of about three months. As might be expected, the treatment had no measurable impact on the control group. However, the test group showed an increase in brain voltage: not all the way back to “normal” levels, but a significant increase. The stunning part of the results was in the subjective evidence; subjects in the test group reported feeling better, being able to concentrate more, and doing better academically.
It seemed strange to me that light therapy could have an effect on the brain, but as it was explained to me, bone is essentially transparent to infrared light. The devices have an effective penetration range of 8 inches or more on the head, so the light reaches most of the brain. The company does not yet have an explanation for the physiological mechanism that could result in these improvements, but is pursuing additional research. Oh, and that notable exception mentioned earlier? It turned out that one of the subjects in the control group had lower voltage brain activity. Further inquiry revealed that the student had played a lot of youth football, even though he had not played in high school. He had never been officially diagnosed with a concussion, but it’s possible that repeated head impacts could have been a factor. And this particular subject showed improvement with the light therapy, just like the subjects in the test group.
Head injuries and concussions are a major concern in amateur and professional sports, and it would be major news if it turns out that infrared light therapy could be an effective way to reverse some of the damage.