Re­search throws new light on wounds that won’t heal

CityPress - - News - – Staff re­porter

Medicines are good, but for pa­tients with wounds that refuse to heal, light can be even bet­ter.

Light – in the form of low-level light ther­apy or pho­to­biomod­u­la­tion, say re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Johannesburg – can also speed up heal­ing from painful con­di­tions, surgery and fluid re­ten­tion.

A small study in­volv­ing 10 pa­tients showed that those who lost feel­ing in their feet and hands as a re­sult of di­a­betes re­gained some of their sen­si­tiv­ity af­ter re­ceiv­ing the treat­ment.

Se­nior re­searcher Dr Ni­co­lette Houreld said: “The study’s re­sults show real prom­ise as a fu­ture med­i­cal treat­ment, so we’re do­ing a fol­low-up study with more peo­ple.”

Prof Heidi Abra­hamse, di­rec­tor at the univer­sity’s Laser Re­search Cen­tre, said di­a­betic pa­tients could ben­e­fit sig­nif­i­cantly from this treat­ment.

“Of­ten, they can’t even feel a shoe rub­bing off skin or that they are burn­ing their fin­gers. They end up with wounds that just don’t heal de­spite treat­ment with med­i­ca­tions,” she said.

Last month, the univer­sity hosted a work­shop to teach stu­dents and med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als – in­clud­ing der­ma­tol­o­gists, phys­io­ther­a­pists and po­di­a­trists – the ben­e­fits of pho­to­biomod­u­la­tion.

“We use low-power lasers or light-emit­ting diodes in pho­to­biomod­u­la­tion. This treat­ment calms down in­flam­ma­tion, speeds up the for­ma­tion of new blood ves­sels and speeds up heal­ing when ap­plied cor­rectly to wounds and painful ar­eas,” said Abra­hamse.

“Di­a­betic wounds can heal faster when pho­to­biomod­u­la­tion is used in com­bi­na­tion with med­i­ca­tions. A small num­ber of med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als in South Africa are us­ing this treat­ment al­ready.”

Houreld said light-treat­ment “boosts” helped the body to over­come bar­ri­ers to heal­ing. “For some dif­fi­cult-to-heal wounds, it’s as if that part of the body is ‘stuck’ in the in­flam­ma­tion phase. When we use pho­to­biomod­u­la­tion, the laser light causes the body to pro­duce fewer anti-in­flam­ma­to­ries and to move along the var­i­ous phases of heal­ing much faster.”

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