Low-Level Light Therapy Enhances Brain Connectivity in TBI Recovery

Low-level light therapy

A recent study published in *Radiology* reveals that low-level light therapy (LLLT) could benefit individuals recovering from moderate traumatic brain injuries (TBI). TBI, a serious global health concern, traditionally relies on drug treatments, but LLLT offers a promising non-drug alternative. This therapy involves using near-infrared light to enhance brain function by penetrating the scalp or nasal passages.

The study, led by Massachusetts General Hospital, included 68 moderate TBI patients in a double-blind, sham-controlled trial. Participants received LLLT through helmets emitting near-infrared light, applied within 72 hours post-injury and repeated twice. The sham group underwent identical procedures without actual light emission. Functional MRI (fMRI) scans assessed brain connectivity at three intervals: within the first week, 2-3 weeks later, and three months post-injury. A control group of 23 healthy individuals underwent a single fMRI scan.

Results showed that LLLT patients exhibited more significant increases in resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) between various brain regions compared to the sham group, particularly in the first two weeks post-injury. These regions are crucial for sensory processing, motor control, and cognitive functions. The sham group, in contrast, showed decreased connectivity initially, which later improved naturally over time.

However, the long-term impact of LLLT on brain connectivity remains uncertain, as both groups showed similar improvements by the late-subacute phase. The study’s limitations include its design focus on structural over functional connectivity, high participant dropout rates, and reliance on self-reported symptoms. Despite these constraints, the findings suggest LLLT may support early brain recovery post-TBI by enhancing functional connections, warranting further research to validate its therapeutic potential.

Click here to read more and view the full study on low-level light therapy