Researchers Investigate Light As Traumatic Brain Treatment

Every year hundreds of thousands of people suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in the United States. TBI can be caused by any of a number of head injuries and can result in anything from relatively mild concussions to severe injuries that can result in death. Over the years researchers have investigated many procedures and medications to help treat TBI and have had varying levels of success. Now, researchers are hoping that an innovative new treatment may lead to a breakthrough in TBI treatment. reports that Dr. Rajiv Gupta and his colleagues at the Ultra-High Resolution Volume CT lab at Mass. General are studying the effects of treating mild TBI patients with near-infrared, low-level light therapy. Gupta says that the idea is to use the light to combat some of the most serious effects of TBI. The team was “able to show that light reduces cell death, it reduces inflammation, it increases blood circulation,” he said.

In order to test the theory, researchers designed a helmet to direct infrared light to the surface of the brain. The 3 percent of the light from the helmet that reaches the surface of the brain “goes directly into the brain and is affecting the cells in the brain,” Gupta said.

As judged from MRIs taken after the light therapy, the initial results seem promising. Next, Gupta and his team plan to investigate whether light therapy can actually improve people’s subjective feeling of recovery from the TBI. 

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