Effective treatments and healing only come from the proper laser therapy device used at the right power and wavelength
Laser therapy (photobiomodulation, or PBM) is one of the fastest-growing modalities in chiropractic and in many other health care disciplines. As recently as 15 years ago there was little understanding of the mechanism behind photobiomodulation. But now thanks to the work of top researchers around the world, use of PBM science and the laser therapy device is rapidly advancing.
Investment in a laser therapy device
With a better understanding of laser mechanisms comes a better understanding of the optimal parameters for effective laser therapy treatments. laser therapy device equipment manufacturers that are implementing the latest laser therapy science and research into their devices and protocols will continually be improving clinical outcomes.
Investing in a therapeutic laser is a big decision for today’s chiropractor. There are many options on the market and oftentimes conflicting advice regarding laser parameters. But diligent laser equipment research pays off.
Ryan Lucas, DC, of Gaylord, Mich., said, “I am continually impressed with the various conditions that I have been able to help people with that they otherwise would have suffered with for years. This impresses me weekly even after using laser for 10 years.”
Looking at the company
The first questions to ask when buying a laser therapy device should be about the company itself:
- How long have they been in business?
- How long have the employees worked for the company?
- Where is the company based?
- Do they implement the latest research into their laser devices?
Questions should also be asked about warranty, service and repairs, and availability of loaner equipment, if needed. A therapy laser company should be devoted to advancing laser therapy science and offering various educational resources.
A reputable therapy laser company should be able to provide prompt clinical support from fellow clinicians experienced in treatment delivery, case management and laser safety. This clinical support should be included in the laser price — with no extra charges.
“My laser company has outstanding customer service and support. I have been using their lasers for more than 12 years and they have never let me down,” said Reed Lerman, DC, of Manahawkin, N.J.
Looking at the equipment
The next questions to ask are about the laser equipment itself:
- Is it durable and sturdy?
- Is it easy to use?
- Does the laser software have preset protocols that make it easy for your office staff to deliver laser treatments?
- When delivering laser treatments, is the laser handpiece lightweight, or is it heavy so that your staff members’ arms will get tired quickly?
Next we move to the internal specifications of the laser device:
- How is the laser light produced?
- What kind of diodes are they?
- How are the diodes kept cool?
- Are there single diodes per wavelength or are there multiple diodes per wavelength?
The important specifications for effective laser therapy treatments are as follows: wavelength, power, power density, treatment time, and mode of delivery (continuous wave versus pulsed modes of delivery).
Wavelength determines depth of penetration and the chromophores that will most readily absorb the laser photons. Most therapy lasers can emit multiple wavelengths simultaneously, with some offering “wavelength selectability,” which will turn on or off selected wavelengths.
The next generation of laser therapy device will be able to deliver multiple wavelengths at various power levels. This will further improve clinical outcomes.
Power correlates to the brightness of the laser light, and power density measures the concentration of the laser light. A higher-powered therapy laser can deliver more light to deeper tissues and can deliver a therapeutic dosage to a larger volume of tissue than a lower-powered laser. Therapeutic lasers utilize power density orders of magnitude lower than that of surgical lasers.
When it comes to power, beware of the American adage, “If some is good, then more is better,” as lasers with too much power can create liability issues.
The best therapeutic lasers can deliver laser light in multiple modes. This means the laser light could be constantly on or pulsing on/off at varying frequencies. This targets different tissue types in the patient and elicits different physiological responses from the tissues.
Certified laser therapist Suzanne Agliata advises, “Choose a laser that makes it easy to replicate any treatment.”
Looking at treatments
Laser therapy treatments must be delivered directly to the skin, as laser will not pass through clothing. Treatments are best delivered as an active procedure, with the laser therapist directly applying the laser to the patient. Unattended laser devices do not save on staffing expenses, as someone must be in the room monitoring the patient. Failing to do so opens the door to injury complaints and liability.
The physiological effects of laser therapy are reduced pain, modulated inflammation and enhanced tissue healing. Treatments are non-invasive and have virtually no side effects.
Jim Hoyt, DC, of Missouri Valley, Iowa, reports, “It’s the next best thing to a ‘magic wand!’ I could not practice without it and still deliver the best care possible.”
Return on investment
The final and perhaps most important consideration in purchasing a laser device is return on investment. After all, the most expensive piece of equipment is the one that you do not use — regardless of the cost.
Make an analysis of the number of patients and conditions that can be treated every month, and how much you can be reimbursed for those services. Laser equipment companies work with financing companies who can structure different types of loans or leases. One laser company offers a pay-as-you-go system, which allows for product evaluation with no long-term commitment.
Laser therapy is here to stay. It is a proven modality, helping scores of patients with pain and injuries every day. Brenda Medina, DC, of Franklin, Tenn., enthusiastically proclaims, “Laser therapy is a game-changer. I should wear a shirt that says, ‘Let’s laser that!’”
Choosing the right therapy laser will soon have you echoing her words.
Phil Harrington, DC, CMLSO, FASLMS, is clinical manager, human medical director and laser safety officer at Summus Medical Laser. To learn more, go to summuslaser.com/why-summus.