Therapeutic Laser Therapy

Therapeutic Laser Therapy (TLT) is a scientifically and clinically proven therapeutic modality which uses light of different wavelengths that, when delivered to body tissues, results in decreased inflammation, enhances tissue healing and regeneration, kills bacteria, initiates pain relief, increases blood supply and oxygen delivery to tissues.

How it Works

“Photobiomodulation” (PBM) is the term applied to the therapeutic effect on cells. By directing photons of light to receptors in cell mitochondria, the process can upregulate or down-regulate processes within the body. Light energy units (photons) are delivered by light at different wavelengths. When combined with a power source, the photons can produce changes in tissue at a cellular level.

PBM depends on the interaction of photons with the cell mitochondria. It is a non-thermal process, there is no need for heat to produce PBL and PBL cannot occur with excessive heat. With excess heat cell death (apoptosis) and tissue damage will occur.

Achievement of PBM depends on the amount of light delivered to tissues (correct dose) and at the correct rate (frequency). Light needs to reach mitochondria achieved by careful delivery of photons to tissues. Fuel used by body cells comes in the form of a molecule called “Adenosine triphosphate” (ATP). If a cell runs out of its’ ATP fuel, the cell cannot continue to work. ATP is produced by cell mitochondria. With TLT, the absorption of photons by the mitochondria allows the cell to produce more ATP. There is upregulation of cell work at an increased rate with extra energy.

Blood vessels are stimulated to dilate increasing blood supply and oxygen carrying capacity to the tissues.

Nerve cells are affected by increased blood supply and oxygen supply. There is a direct effect on pain sensation and neurotransmission, downregulating pain transmission.

TLT is complementary to Traditional Veterinary Treatment & concurrent treatments.

All patients will undergo normal veterinary examinations, diagnostic & imaging plans, medication and treatment plans. TLT is an important, additional treatment which complements traditional treatments. The benefits of TLT will aid to speed up the healing process, may decrease use of some drugs and restore normal function ASAP.

Importantly for injured Sport Horses this mean bringing healing forward, reducing time in rehabilitation and spelling, returning to competition faster. TLT provides effective pain relief and is used in conjunction with our usual assessments to determine readiness for return to work.

Wavelengths of Light

TLT uses red, infrared & blue light wavelengths. Light at 600 – 700 nm penetrates superficial tissues; light at 780- 950 nm penetrates deeper tissues.

Visible Red Light with no power source, such as LED Red light (often sold in mats), only penetrates tissue superficially, down to 1cm (i.e. only affecting skin).

TLT combines light of different wavelengths, with a pulsing power source, that can penetrate tissues up to 10 cm. (ie can reach well below the skin, into tendons, ligaments, muscle and bone.) By pulsing the light very, very quickly no heat is built up, so this is a very safe, effective treatment.

The special properties of Blue Light (450 nm) kill bacteria by causing cytotoxicity in bacteria. Blue light is proven to effective against drug resistant bacteria eg MRSA. IN TLT, Blue light can be used to kill bacteria in circumstances such as treating a wound before suturing the wound or assisting antibiotic therapy to treat infected wounds. Corneal ulcers and burn wounds can be treated with blue light.

In the Australian bushfires of 2020, Koala burn wounds were treated with TLT Blue Light used daily to decrease pain so burn wounds could then be treated. Healing rates were observed to increase by 50% with a decrease in compounding health problems.

The Classification of lasers is based on Hazard Exposure – not efficacy.

That is – lasers are classed according to their safety, not on how well they work. Not all “lasers” are the same nor do they achieve the same results. Just as different medications have different effects, different lasers have different effects depending on the power, wavelength, exposure time, frequency of exposure and the way it is administered.

Class 1 lasers are the safest; can be used on all animals for a multitude of conditions in any indoor or outdoor environment and do not require hazard safety wear. TLT described in this article, is delivered by the safe Class 1 Multiradiance Shower Laser.

Class IV lasers are capable of extensive eye & tissue damage, require special safety equipment, goggles, specially built rooms to use them in and certification for use. Class IV lasers only deliver one wavelength of light at very high power and cannot produce PBM as too much heat is generated and the light cannot reach deep into tissues without cell death through tissue damage. Class IV laser cannot produce PBL as too much heat is generated. Surgical lasers are very high powered to cut through tissue; these lasers are not Therapeutic Lasers.

 Scientific evidence is paramount with peer reviewed data and clinical medical validation supplied by manufacturers who distribute and advertise lasers

Indications for use in Injury Treatment, Rehabilitation & Prevention

  • Wound healing

  • Decrease infection

  • Decrease swelling(oedema) & inflammation

  • Pain management

  • Exercise preconditioning and recovery

  • Competition preconditioning, during and post competition treatments. FEI & Olympic committee approved for use in competition & post competition recovery (Class IV lasers are not approved)


Specific Conditions in Horses

  • Pain management – back & neck pain, pulled muscles, muscle tears, post injury

  • Tendon/ligament injury – acute injury; following Regenerative therapy e.g. stem cell

  • Physical Therapy before/during/after competitions.

  • Joint conditions – TMJ, swollen joints, sacroiliac injury

  • Nerve pain – chronic neuropathy

  • Corneal ulcers (Blue light)

  • Wound management – cellulitis; post-surgery conditions; decrease swelling & scar

  • Infection control (Blue light)

Specific Conditions in Dogs

  • Arthritis

  • Ligament injuries eg Cruciate ligaments

  • Ear conditions

  • Eye injury

  • Dental conditions

  • Infection control

  • Cellulitis and Wound management

  • Post surgery use


Client Use of Lasers

We have many very enthusiastic owners of horses, dogs & cats that have seen the beneficial effects of TLT and who are keen to treat their animals at home. Pets can be treated in the home, stable or paddock.

These easy to use handheld lasers are available for hire to clients to continue use with at home treatments. The client participates in the therapeutic process of healing and the animal can be treated at home without having to come to the vet.

Safety is important with all animal therapy. These units are extremely safe, no side effects, no sedation required, no hair clipping required and the treatment is non-invasive (no needles)

There is no need for special equipment such as goggles or dedicated treatment rooms. (As do Class IV lasers)

Clients will be instructed in the use of TLT and given a written treatment plan including a “Pain Map” that records observable results. Patients receive a loading dose of TLT that is continued at home on a specific protocol (Time/Frequency/Duration of treatment) according to the patients’ condition.

Communication with the vet continues during treatment by phone or email and sequential photographs may be taken and sent to the vet electronically.

Best of all – the treatment is extremely affordable for everyone.


Benefits of Therapeutic Laser Therapy

  • Safe on all animals

  • Non-invasive (no needles)

  • Effective on a multitude of conditions

  • No sedation

  • No clipping of hair

  • Use in any location

  • Clients can hire units

  • FEI & Olympic committee approved for competition

  • Increase healing rates, decrease rehabilitation times

  • Early restoration of biomechanical function

  • Very affordable

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 Therapeutic Laser Therapy for Equine Competitors

 Treatment for Sport Horses at all Levels - Elite or Pony Club, Competitive or Pleasure

 Therapeutic Laser Therapy (TLT) can help with injury, inflammation, wounds & more.

All athletes, human or horse, strive to stay healthy & focused. Managing fatigue and injury is an important part of staying competitive, keeping the horse in work and maintaining peak performance. As an Equine Sports Medicine Vet, as well as a competitor, Dr Joan is well aware of the trials and tribulations of equine competition. That is why we take every advantage of technology to keep our sport horses at peak performance. 

Treatment options for horses actively competing can be limited yet with the TLT being FEI & Olympic committee approved for use Pre/During/Post competition, we have an extremely useful tool to treat the inevitable injuries that arise in competition.

Dr Joan regularly attends competitions in various disciplines especially Endurance and Eventing. We can provide various levels of therapy at competitions, including TLT. Contact us for more details.