Near-Infared Light Treatment for TBI

On April 2, 2015 Veteran’s Affairs released information about research underway by Dr. Margaret Naeser at VA Boston Healthcare System on revitalizing damaged brain cells using a combination of red light and near infared light. Dr. Naeser is trying the technique on war veterans with TBI using a helmet with light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The theory behind the treatment is that the energy centers in brain cells, the mitchondria, are damaged by trauma, and the light emitted by the diodes stimulates activity by the mitochrondria.

The LEDs also promote improved blood flow in the brain cells exposed to the light as shown by neuro-imaging. Results to date are promising, but the treatment remains investigational at this point. Dr. Naeser says that while cognitive rehabilitation “exercises” the brain, LEDs can also help by promoting blood flow to damaged tissue and by stimulating sub-cellular mitochondria (energy production centers) that were put into a resting state by trauma