Laser therapy is the use of specific wavelengths of light in the red and near infra-red range resulting in improved healing time, pain reduction, increased circulation, decreased swelling. Laser energy is absorbed by tissues containing water, hemoglobin, and melanin. Therapeutic medical lasers heal tissue ailments by injecting billions of photons of visible and /or invisible laser light deep into tissue structures. Tissue naturally contains protein strands called chromophores and cytochromes located in the mitochrondria of a cell ( the powerhouse, or engine of the cell), which have the unique ability to absorb laser light energy and transform it into chemical energy for the cell.
In other words, like a plant absorbs the sun’s light energy, and transforms it into chemical energy that enables the plant to grow – a process called Photosynthesis. As happens in the plant, the chemical energy created by the stimulation of the chromophores and cytochromes is used by the tissue to significantly accelerate the healing process and reduce pain in the body naturally.
The best part of all is that the procedure is painless, requires no exercise restrictions, and allows a decreased use of medications!
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The therapeutic laser purchased by Beverly Oaks Animal Hospital & Emergency Animal Clinic is the newest generation of laser and contains 4 different wavelengths so the properties of 4 different tissues can be stimulated to effect healing.
The 905 nm wavelength is absorbed by hemoglobin, the molecule in the red blood cell that carries oxygen from the lungs to the cells of the body. Hemoglobin releases the oxygen at a variable rate, but when stimulated by the laser delivering this wavelength to the area, the red blood cells release the oxygen more rapidly and thus more oxygen is delivered to the area under therapy. In conjunction with the 800 nm wavelength, which stimulates cytochrome c oxidase—more ATP (think “cell food”) is produced in the area undergoing treatment, and thus cells are able to heal more rapidly.
All surgical incision closures should receive a laser treatment to cause a more rapid closure of the incision than the commonly expected 14 to 21 days by stimulating the process described above.
The 660 nm wavelength is absorbed by melanin containing cells. Melanin is the dark pigment that results in changes in skin color among people, as well as freckles, and moles. It is also the pigment that is in darker hair coats and also in freckling and skin pigment differences in dogs and cats. This wavelength is useful to address infected wounds because it inhibits bacterial growth and through the processes described above, helps with healing.
Bite wounds, chronic non-resolving skin infections, as well as skin and ear infections due to resistant bacteria, should all have a course of laser therapy to help resolve the recurrent condition.
Lastly the 970 nm wavelength is absorbed by water in the bloodstream. When the wavelength energy is absorbed by the water in the bloodstream, it gets converted into heat. This wavelength is delivered by a pulsed system, so what happens is that pulses of warmth are delivered to a healing area, followed by pulses of “non-warmth” or nothing, so it is like alternating a hot compress on an affected area followed by a cold compress, and then a hot compress again, etc. This increases blood flow to a specific area.
So, putting it all together, what will we use it for?
Accelerated Tissue Repair And Cell Growth
Photons of light from lasers penetrate deeply into tissue and accelerate cellular reproduction and growth. The laser light increases the energy available to the cell so that the cell can take on nutrients faster and get rid of waste products. As a result of exposure to laser light, the cells of tendons, ligaments and muscles are repaired faster.
Faster Wound Healing
Laser light stimulates fibroblast development [fibroblasts are the building blocks of collagen, which is predominant in wound healing] in damaged tissue. Collagen is the essential protein required to replace old tissue or to repair tissue injuries. As a result, LT is effective on open wounds and burns.
Reduced Fibrous Tissue Formation
Laser Therapy reduces the formation of scar tissue following tissue damage from cuts, scratches, burns or surgery.
Laser light therapy has an anti-edemic effect as it causes vasodilation, but also because it activates the lymphatic drainage system [drains swollen areas]. As a result, there is a reduction in swelling caused by bruising or inflammation.
Laser therapy has a high beneficial effect on nerve cells which block pain transmitted by these cells to the brain and which decreases nerve sensitivity. Also, due to less inflammation, there is less edema and less pain. Another pain blocking mechanism involves the production of high levels of pain killing chemicals such as endorphins and enkephlins from the brain and adrenal gland.
Improved Vascular Activity
Laser light will significantly increase the formation of new capillaries in damaged tissue that speeds up the healing process, closes wounds quickly and reduces scar tissue. Additional benefits include acceleration of angiogenesis, which causes temporary vasodilatation, an increase in the diameter of blood vessels.
Increased Metabolic Activity
Laser therapy creates higher outputs of specific enzymes, greater oxygen and food particle loads for blood cells.
Improved Nerve Function
Slow recovery of nerve functions in damaged tissue can result in numbness and impaired limbs. Laser light will speed up the process of nerve cell reconnection and increase the amplitude of action potentials to optimize muscle action.
Laser light has a direct effect on immunity status by stimulation of immunoglobines and lymphocytes. LT is absorbed by chromophones [molecule enzymes] that react to laser light. The enzyme flavomono-nucleotide is activated and starts the production of ATP [adenosine-tri-phosphate], which is the major carrier of cell energy and the energy source for all chemical reactions in the cells.
Trigger Points and Acupuncture Points
Laser therapy stimulates muscle trigger points and acupuncture points on a non-invasive basis providing musculoskeletal pain relief