Lasers and Laser Therapy. Not Just For a Jedi (or the Sith)
“Do. Or Do Not. There Is No Try.” – Yoda
Deep in the swamplands of the planet Mimban lies a powerful crystal, capable of giving its possessor an invincible mastery of the Force. In the right hands, it could save the galaxy. But in the wrong hands, it could destroy it. While the explosion of the first Death Star still reverberates through the cosmos, young Skywalker finds that the war he thought he won was only a battle, and that the dark side of the Force still stalks the galaxy… The Sith are on the rise alongside an even greater enemy… The First Order…
That opening paragraph sounds quite grim and foreboding… especially for the Republic! (The good guys) Notwithstanding, we would all like to conclude that no matter the odds or circumstances, the final chapter of our lives, like a novel will not fall the wayside of the Empire Strikes Back but that of A New Hope.
“An elegant weapon for a more civilized age.” — Obi-Wan Kenobi
When we first gazed upon the impressive and imposing laser confrontations during many scenes in the Star Wars saga dating back to 1977, the first element that crosses our mind is the sheer destructive force and nature that Lasers can forge including the ancient weapon of the Jedi and Sith, the Light Saber. Nevertheless, did you also know that lasers can promote healing and reduce pain instead of inflicting great damage and destruction? Yes young Padawan, this is true today as it is now true in the Star Wars universe. The young Skywalker would come to know this when he battled his FATHER……
“I find your lack of faith disturbing.” — Darth Vader
Class 3 vs. Class 4 Lasers (It’s All In The Force)
The use of low level lasers is increasing in medical applications and for good reason backed by science. This treatment modality offers several advantages by promoting wound healing, reducing inflammation, edema and pain. There are many different lasers on the market with different wavelengths, different combinations of wavelengths and output power. This can be confusing, however as a young Padawn in training, you will soon learn the way of the force and facts about LLLT.
“The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner. Now I am the master.” – Lord Vader
Most of these lasers are in the Class 3B, meaning lasers with a maximum power of 500 milliwatts (mW). (Not enough power to take out a Star Destroyer or Dreadnaught)
Lasers with higher power are in the Class IV and having powers between 501 mW up to 15 000 mW (15 W) or more. (The verdict is still out if these Class IV Lasers can bring down a Death Star or Darth Sidious)
The classification has nothing to do with the therapeutic effects but is solely based upon the risk of retinal damage. Now for the million dollar question… (or the million dollar Imperial Credit question if we live in the Outer Rim Territories) Which type of laser is then the best to purchase or use?
Manufacturers of Class IV lasers often claim that the high power increases the depth of penetration into tissue. This is not correct. Several of these lasers have a 980 nm wavelength, and the penetration of this wavelength is considerably less than that of the more conventional 808 nm wavelength. Since the penetration at 980m nm is poor, this means that there is more heat buildup at the skin. Think of Young Skywalker’s Light Saber just about to sear some flesh on a Tauntauns hide on Planet Hoth.
“The Force Is Strong With This One” – Lord Vader
Laser phototherapy is not about heat but about photochemical reactions. As for the high power, it causes no increase of the penetration depth. The study by Joensen et al.  showed a static depth of penetration of 810 nm over time. It is true that high power quicker produces more photons at the level of the maximum penetration, but this is not necessarily beneficial. Studies have shown that low doses and long time is more effective for the reduction of inflammatory processes , whereas high power and short time are inhibitory. Inhibition is actually a part of LLLT. By using high energies, the pain transmission in nerves is temporarily slowed down . This is a useful option in many situations of acute pain. But on the other hand, the inflammatory background of the pain is also inhibited and the actual healing is slower. Another aspect of the depth of penetration is the heat produced by strong lasers. This is particularly a problem in patients with dark skin or dark hair. A Wookie for example would find this incredibly painful to use and would not be pleased with the results or indications of a Class IV laser… And we all know it’s not wise to make a Wookie upset.
“Stay on Target… STAY ON TARGET!” – Gold Five (Gold Leader)
Proponents of Class IV lasers often claim that a larger area can be treated much faster. A cluster of Class 3B lasers can do the same thing and with the advantages mentioned above. The goal of such therapy is to identify the precise locations of the problems and to apply a sufficient energy to that specific area, rather than to cover a large area and HOPE for the best which Class IV lasers try to achieve. “Rebellions are built on hope…” – Jyn Erso but not for Laser therapy! It took direct procession to destroy the Death Star…TWICE! Blasting the entire area is not as effective as pin point accuracy that Class 3B lasers provide. Just ask General Tarkin about this…
“May The Force Be With You… And The Facts”
In summary, any Class IV laser used within its limitations can be used in a clinic environment for treatment. Is this an ideal situation? Based on research and clinical tests and science? The answer would be no. There are several therapeutic limitations with Class IV lasers notwithstanding, moreover Class 3B lasers can do whatever the Class IV laser can perform and MORE and as a consequence, Class 3B lasers are far superior for all therapeutic treatments in comparison. Factor in the lower overall cost of using low level laser therapy (LLLT) and it’s safety protocols that Class IV lasers cannot match at any level and Class 3B lasers should be more than enough to impress any customer or patient and even those young Jedi Knights in training.
Now that you know the true FACTS, May The Force Be With You… Always.
Laser Therapy for pain is effective, and BioFlex Laser Therapy (a form of Low Level Laser Therapy [LLLT], also known as ‘Cold Laser Therapy’ or ‘Phototherapy’) is approved by Health Canada, UL, CE and the FDA to treat many conditions, from sports and soft tissue injuries, to contusions and wound-healing. (*Please contact us for a list of approved indications for use, as applicable in your region.) BioFlex Laser Therapy promotes healing at the cellular level. It reduces inflammation and relieves pain.
- Joensen J, Ovsthus K, Reed R K, Hummelsund S, Iversen V V, LopesMartins R A, Bjordal J M. Skin Penetration Time-Profiles for Continuous 810 nm and Superpulsed 904 nm Lasers in a Rat Model. Photomed Laser Surg. 2012; 30 (12): 688-694.
- Castano A P, Dai T, Yaroslavsky I, Cohen R, Apruzzese W A, Smotrich M H, Hamblin M R. Low-level laser therapy for zymosan-induced arthritis in rats: Importance of illumination time. Lasers Surg Med. 2007; 39 (6): 543-550.
- Chow R T, David M A, Armati P J. 830 nm laser irradiation induces varicosity formation, reduces mitochondrial membrane potential and blocks fast axonal flow in small and medium diameter rat dorsal root ganglion neurons: implications for the analgesic effects of 830 nm laser. J Peripher Nerv Syst. 2007; 12 (1): 28-39.