Canadian firm optimizes laser treatments for pain

By Rosie Lombardi

Roger Dumoulin WhiteDoctors are growing increasingly reluctant to prescribe pain medication to patients, as addiction rates grow at alarming rates. Cold laser therapy for pain reduction is sometimes proposed as an alternative, but studies about its efficacy have generally been inconclusive in the past, limiting its application. However, Theralase Technologies, a Toronto-based biotech, claims that its next-generation laser treatments are far more effective than previous forms of the technology – and it has scientific research conducted with Toronto’s University Health Network to support it.

Theralase launched its original laser technology in 1995 and a redesigned digital version in 2002, so it’s been working on improvements to laser therapy for many years.

The company says its new TLC-2000 laser, launched this year in Canada and the US, is far more reliable and effective because the technology has the ability to “sense” injured tissue and then deliver an exact dose of energy to effectively heal it.

“The first law of photochemistry is that light of the right wavelength must penetrate to the tissue of interest to have a biochemical or healing effect,” explains Roger Dumoulin-White (pictured), president and CEO of Theralase.

“Development of our TLC-2000’s Cell Sensing technology has literally taken dozens of scientific and engineering researchers working over a decade to bring to light. It provides unrivalled repeatability and reproducibility that the medical community has been waiting for to allow therapeutic lasers the opportunity to finally enter mainstream medicine.”

Results for older laser technology are often hit-or-miss because the manufacturers had to make their best guesses about the correct wavelength and amount of light energy to deliver to tissue, says Dumoulin-White.

“Instead, the TLC-2000 automatically takes a patient’s physical characteristics (and hence their optical characteristics) into account, and the depth of their injury, to deliver exact healing doses of laser light energy each and every time to heal the tissue faster and more effectively than any technology on the market.”

Older laser technology uses wavelengths that can’t activate the key cellular pathways for healing properly or they deliver incorrect doses of energy to the tissue surface. “That’s why laser studies have shown such variable and inconclusive results in the past. Patients come in different shapes and sizes, but older technology was unable to tailor treatments.”

By analogy, if you only prescribe a tenth of an aspirin for a headache, it may seem to work for some patients – but it’s not the right dosage and maybe not even the right drug, so the results will be inconsistent, short-lived and generally poor, with patients complaining that it doesn’t work. “By contrast delivering the right wavelength of light in the right dosage makes a big difference, providing consistent, effective results.”

White says Theralase’s next-generation laser technology has been specifically designed with patented technology to “read” or “sense” a patient’s tissue to deliver the right laser light dosage.

“Up until this point, there’s been no way to determine how much light was actually being deposited at tissue depth. However, our engineering team worked with scientific researchers at Toronto’s University Health Network to develop a way to solve this problem. We have scientific research which proves the effectiveness of the wavelengths that our technology uses and patented technology that determines the amount of laser light required at tissue depth for optimal tissue healing.”

To develop the TLC-2000’s “sensing” ability, Theralase conducted extensive scientific research of laser light technology by analyzing the propagation of light in tissue and the associated attenuation (reduction) through various tissues via computer modeling, phantom technology (materials that optically behave the same as tissue) and finally verification and validation through established animal models.

White says the technology can be tailored for each patient based on the input of their physical characteristics into the tablet software and then letting the system determine the light attenuation of their tissue through a patented algorithm.

“Tissue light attenuation is determined by changes in physical characteristics of people, like their skin coloration, subcutaneous fat level, muscle content, water hydration, oxygen profusion, and other related factors. The TLC-2000 automatically detects and adjusts for these factors to deliver laser light therapy effectively.”
The company’s TLC-2000 laser therapy has been approved by Health Canada and the FDA, and is available in participating clinics as of January 2016.

“We’re finally launching this state-of-the-art technology after a ten-year ride. By providing healthcare practitioners with a sophisticated medical technology, we believe we’ve solved an issue that has plagued the therapeutic laser industry for years and has thus far prevented it from entering mainstream medicine. No longer is this the case.”

Some mainstream physicians have already started to explore the healing effects of cold laser therapy. Dr. Norman Doidge, a medical doctor and psychiatrist, talks about the current state of medical research into laser light therapy in his recent book, The Brain’s Way of Healing.

Doidge describes the findings of several doctors who have had extraordinary success using light therapy to treat patients with brain injuries. Results included decreasing the severity of headaches, brain fog and fatigue, as well as restoring balance, memory, vision and hearing. Light therapy has also been used effectively to treat the effects of conditions such as Alzheimer’s, spinal cord injuries and strokes.

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