Study reviews the general topic of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and research utilizing transcranial photobiomodulation (tPBM) to improve cognition in chronic TBI using red/near-infrared (NIR) light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to deliver light to the head. Transcranial Photobiomodulation improves mitochondrial function increasing oxygen consumption, production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and improving cellular energy stores. Nitric oxide is released from the cells increasing regional blood flow in the brain.
In a previously published study, 11 chronic TBI patients with closed-head TBI caused by different accidents (motor vehicle accident, sports-related, improvised explosive device blast injury) and exhibiting long-lasting cognitive dysfunction received 18 outpatient treatments (Monday, Wednesday, Friday for 6 weeks) starting at 10 months to 8 years post-TBI. LED therapy is nonthermal, painless, and noninvasive. An LED-based device classified as nonsignificant risk (FDA cleared) was used. Each LED cluster head (5.35 cm diameter, 500 mW, 22.2 mW/cm2) was applied for 9 min 45 sec (13 J/cm2) using 11 locations on the scalp: midline from front-to-back hairline and bilaterally on frontal, parietal, and temporal areas. Testing was performed before and after transcranial LED (tLED; at 1 week, 1 month, and at 2 months after the 18th treatment) and showed significant improvements in executive function and verbal memory. There were also fewer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms reported.
Transcranial, Red/Near-Infrared Light-Emitting Diode Therapy to Improve Cognition in Chronic Traumatic Brain Injury Margaret A. Naeser, Paula I. Martin, Michael D. Ho, Maxine H. Krengel, Yelena Bogdanova, Jeffrey A. Knight, Megan K. Yee, Ross Zafonte, Judith Frazier, Michael R. Hamblin, and Bang-Bon Koo Photomedicine and Laser Surgery 2016 34:12, 610-626