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The Science of Healing: How Light Therapy Enhances Brain Connectivity Post-Injury

A groundbreaking study from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) shines a new light on the healing potential of the brain. Published in Radiology, the research reveals that low-level light therapy (LLLT) can significantly increase brain connectivity following a traumatic brain injury (1).

The study involved 38 patients who had suffered moderate traumatic brain injuries. They received LLLT within 72 hours of their injury through a helmet emitting near-infrared light. This innovative approach leverages the skull’s transparency to near-infrared light, allowing the entire brain to be bathed in therapeutic light (1).

Functional MRI scans were used to measure the effects of the therapy, focusing on the brain’s resting-state functional connectivity—a measure of how well different regions of the brain communicate with each other when not engaged in a specific task (2). The results were promising, patients who received LLLT showed a marked improvement in connectivity in several brain region pairs during the acute-to-subacute recovery phase compared to the control group (1), those who did not receive the therapy.

This increase in connectivity is believed to be due to the alteration of mitochondrial function within brain cells. Mitochondria, often referred to as the cell’s powerhouse, respond to the near-infrared light by increasing the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of the cell (3). This boost in ATP may facilitate the repair and regeneration of neural pathways, thus enhancing neuroplasticity and recovery.

LLLT is continually being studied, but there is heavy research to support its positive benefits in brain and nervous system health.

This blog post aims to educate readers on the scientific principles behind LLLT and its potential benefits for brain recovery. By understanding the mechanisms at play, individuals can appreciate the innovative approaches being developed to support brain health and rehabilitation.

Dr. Dani Ruf, Brain-Focused Chiropractor, Functional Neurology, Meraki Chiropractic PLLC, 11JUN2024

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