I had the opportunity to try out a home version of a pretty cool new treatment called cold laser therapy. This particular unit uses a combination of cold laser (versus a hot laser that would be used in a surgical situation) and micro-current electrical stimulation. You might be familiar with another electrical stimulation device called a TENS unit. This is that, with a laser added on.
Using a cold laser for injuries
My first encounter with this device was in the physical therapy clinic attached to the club where I work. I had sprained my ankle snowboarding two Januarys ago and was curious to see if it impacted how my ankle felt. The physical therapist said that the idea behind the device was to increase the ATP of the cells affected. ATP is basically cellular energy.
I liked it, and it felt slightly better.
Later, I wondered what other conditions this particular device might help, so I went onto the LaserTouchOne website, and found this study done by four researchers associated with the University of Massachusetts. There was no way of summarizing the potential applications of this modality any better than they did, so I simply cut-and-pasted it out of the research study. LLLT is low level light therapy, which is the cold laser device that I was testing out.
It’s a very simple device to use. All you have to do is pull it out of the box, and slather on some conductive gel that comes with the device on the area you want to target. I tested this Laser Touch One Low Level Laser Pain Relief Therapy
It has a (+ and -) roller on the side to increase or decrease the zappy, tickly feeling to a comfortable level.
Another feature is the built-in two-minute timer which makes the unit automatically shut off when your session is complete. Pretty bulletproof.
Cost-wise, it is not cheap…this guy is basically $500. Professional grade units go for as much as $8000. However, let’s say you are going to PT for an acute injury. If your physical therapy appointments have a $30 copay, and you go twice a week for eight weeks, well, you’ve just bought yourself the equivalent of a cold laser. The PT might give you one treatment per visit, but if this was at home you could give yourself up to six treatments a day according to the manufacturer.
This is one of the only major disadvantages, as it takes a series of treatments to make a difference. It can also slightly aggravate old injuries, but the effects of that are reported to be short term. Finally, some insurance companies will not cover the treatment, so make sure yours does. Empirically, several clients have reported great results with the home version. For instance, one client ruptured the major ligament in the arch of her foot and was given an archaic leather lace up ankle brace to her knee to wear to support her foot. Her foot hurt a great deal, even with the brace. She has used this unit for about three months and now her foot does not hurt!
Therefore, consider a cold laser whether at home or in PT to speed your soft tissue healing that much faster.