Treatment of chronic symptoms following mild traumatic brain injury with transcranial LED: a sham run-in pilot study of photobiomodulation therapy

Justin E. Karr, Grant L. Iverson, Nancy Boudreau, Ross Zafonte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Primary Objective: We evaluated whether photobiomodulation with red/near infrared light applied transcranially via light emitting diodes (LED) was associated with reduced symptoms and improved cognitive functioning in patients with chronic symptoms following mild traumatic brain injury. Research Design: Participants (3 men, 6 women; 22–61 years-old) underwent a 6-week intervention involving 18 40-minute transcranial LED treatment sessions. Methods and Procedures: Reliable change indices were calculated for 10 neuropsychological test scores and 3 self-report questionnaires of subjective cognition, post-concussion symptoms, and depression at baseline and following treatment. Questionnaires were also administered after 2-week sham and at 1-month and 2-month follow-ups. Main Outcome and Results: Only 2 participants improved on neuropsychological testing. On questionnaires, 4 reported improved cognition, 5 reported improved post-concussion symptoms, and 3 reported improved depression. Significant improvement in 2 or more domains was reported by 4 participants and mostly maintained at both follow-ups. Conclusions: Most participants did not improve on neuropsychological testing. A minority self-reported improvement in symptoms, potentially explained by the intervention, psychiatric medication changes, placebo effects, or other factors. Selecting participants with different clinical characteristics, and dosing and delivery system changes, may produce different results. A study design accounting for placebo effects appears warranted in future trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-435
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Injury
Volume38
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Keywords

  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic
  • Brain concussion
  • Phototherapy
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Neurology

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