Laser TherapyLight Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation
Effects of Laser Therapy on Dogs, Cats, Horses and other species
Laser therapy has developed considerably in the last 15 years, and a variety of biomolecular effects in tissues have been scientifically proven which are relevant for veterinary practice. In general, it can be said that laser therapy has antiphlogistic, antiedemic, analgesic and regenerative/reparative effects. It has proved useful to make an accurate diagnosis in good time so that the effects of the Laser can be applied already in the first stages of healing as well as in preventive medicine.
By diagnosing the localisation and quality of pain and its exact cause, it is possible to exploit the analgesic potential of laser therapy in pain management. Laser therapy is recommended, for example, for individuals who do not tolerate conventional analgesic pharmacotherapy or for whom the desired effect does not occur with medication alone. Laser therapy can be combined not only with certain analgesics, but also with other physical therapeutic modalities. A synergistic effect is the combination of laser therapy with electrotherapy (TENS), for example, in cases of severe acute pain.
The word has not yet spread far: Laser is not only used invasively in soft tissue surgery but can also be used conservatively in many medical indications.
As a veterinarian, you have set yourself the goal of maintaining or restoring your patient's individual quality of life as best as possible. In case of reduced well-being and pain, the most important thing is to find the cause and alleviate suffering. The therapeutically applied laser beam uses a different wavelength than the cutting laser beam, and thus has different medical indications. Laser therapy can be used for a variety of clinical pictures in everyday veterinary practice without anaesthesia and without much effort.
Although it was scientifically proven as early as the end of the 1960s that laser therapy has a positive effect on the cells of the body, it took about another 40 years for laser therapy to be used as a safe, time-effective and target-oriented treatment method in medicine and veterinary medicine.
Many publications were carried out on rodents under laboratory conditions, so that laser devices with relatively low power (“Low Level Laser Therapy”, LLLT) could guarantee sufficient penetration depth with this animal size. Since many of the medical indications lie deeper in the body, it is now also known that not only a suitable wavelength, but also the clever combination of other parameters is necessary and influences the effect. Therefore, the parameters used on rodents cannot always be transferred 1:1 to larger animals such as dogs, cats and horses. For both humans and these animal species, other laser devices are increasingly being used for treatment, which have been developed in close cooperation with physicians and engineers, to ensure safe and targeted treatment in a practice-relevant time even for individuals with a larger volume. These laser devices are more in the field of “High Level Laser Therapy” (HLLT).
But whether a laser device with the highest power and largest number of laser emission sources offers the best combination is, as confusing as it may sound, not yet scientifically proven. Laser devices of the HLLT - class with a relative lower power and number of emission sources have shown in some publications that it also depends on the smart combination of other parameters to achieve the biomolecular effect in the target tissue.
This again shows that although the handling of a therapeutic laser by trained medical personnel is relatively simple, not only a sound medical background knowledge is essential, but also an expertise in the principles of photon energy in the use of medical indications, which is why the responsibility of the therapy must always rest with the human physician or veterinarian.
Symposium and Certified Applied Laser Therapy course – we care for your expertise:
- Laser therapy basics: wavelengths, chromophores, watts and joules, MLS® vs. continuous ...
- Lasers for everyone? Precautions, expertise, areas of application
- Importance of physical medicine - from basic knowledge to diploma
- Laser in dogs, cats, horses and co. - common indications
- TO BE CONTINUED AFTER DISCUSSION
An animal's eyes have the power to speak a great language."
Laser devices can be classified according to various characteristics. The most important feature to consider when purchasing a laser device for therapeutic use is the device's unalterable laser beam, which emits photon energy in a coherent, monochromatic wavelength. Each laser beam is produced by a single emission source, and this can be accomplished in a variety of technical ways. Laser devices with multiple laser beams contain the same number of emission sources as emitted laser beams.
Another important factor by which laser devices are classified is based on the maximum power or intensity (mW or W) they can deliver.
In clinical practice, therapeutic laser devices with a maximum power level below 500 mW (class 3B, LLLT) or above 500 mW (class 4, HLLT) are used. Laser devices with a power level of at least 500 mW are devices that can demonstrably deliver sufficient photoenergy to the affected tissue in a practical unit of time to trigger the desired photochemical effect.
Scientific investigations have shown that the laser beam used must have a certain wavelength in order to achieve the desired therapeutic effect in the target tissue. Wavelengths below or above approx. 650 - 1350 nm are very unlikely to excite the target tissue metabolism and are therefore unsuitable. Some laser devices also allow the so-called pulsed emission of the laser beam as opposed to a continuous emission mode, i.e. the supply of the beam is briefly interrupted at fixed intervals with therapeutic intent. This seems to enhance the positive effect on cell metabolism. But pulsing is also a safety precaution to avoid the unwanted side effect of overheating the biological tissue during the “point to point” treatment technique. The unwanted thermal effect can be avoided with a fast pulsation of the laser beam, i.e. the pulsation should be performed at a speed that ranks in microseconds.
When is laser therapy useful?
Depending on the parameters set, the photon energy of the laser beam can have an analgesic effect via different points of attack in the cell metabolism. It has an anti-inflammatory effect, prevents the formation of edema and is able to drain it out, has a preventive tissue-protective effect, and has a regenerative, reparative effect that is specifically used in healing of damaged tissues.
As an example, the therapeutic laser works to relieve pain caused by acute or latent chronic inflammation in a joint (osteoarthritis).
Recent experimental studies have shown that photon energy can also be used successfully for neuropathic pain of various origins.
The protective effect of photon energy on soft tissue damage to muscle fibres and nerves has also been experimentally demonstrated.
But laser therapy can also be used as a supportive measure when soft tissue damage has occurred, e.g. in the case of tendon or muscle injury. In this case, prompt diagnosis and timely proper application of laser therapy during the initial healing phases play an important role in achieving a satisfactory result.
One of the very first indications for the use of laser therapy in medicine is the regenerative anti-inflammatory effect in many skin diseases as well as in therapeutic resistant wound healing disorders, although here too current studies are always being published to refine knowledge.
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VAHL webinars have been held weekly since April 2020. These are accessible free of charge and are held by specialists from all over the world. Topics include small animals such as horses. The webinars now have over 900 registered participants. In September 2020, the symposia were additionally launched on a Wednesday each year.
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