Fred Kahn, MD, FRCS(C), Ronaldo Santiago, MD

To Illustrate The Efficacy Of Light Therapy In The Treatment Of Neurological Pathologies.


Currently he is under the care of his family physician, a neurologist, urologist, etc.

He sustained his initial concussion as a child when he fell out of a tree and lost consciousness for an undetermined period of time. A severe whiplash injury occurred in his 20s, accompanied by trauma to the cranium and three years ago, he had another concussion (moderate/severe) when he sustained a blow to the head at work.

He has been on Acyclovir for the past six months, presumably for treatment of Epstein-Barr Syndrome. Symptoms over the past two years persist without relief and include severe dizziness, headaches, insomnia, fatigue and a complete inability to function at all levels. The patient has been unable to work, is relatively immobile, unable to speak and relates a host of additional cognitive symptoms. He has been subjected to ongoing physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, numerous specialist consultants and the employment of an extensive variety of therapeutic options, none of which have improved his status.


  • The patient moves slowly and has a shuffling gait.
  • His facial expressions are relatively rigid.
  • Despite his current age of 52 years, his appearance and movements resemble someone in their 80s.
  • The patient is right-handed. The right grip is 50 lbs and the left 40 lbs.
  • Lateral abduction of both shoulders is to 90° only and all movements of both shoulders are restricted in varying degrees.
  • Range of motion of the cervical spine with regard to flexion, extension, lateral rotation and lateral flexion is less than 20% of normal and a similar range of motion of the thoracolumbar spine is 25% of normal.
  • Straight leg raising is 50° bilaterally.
  • Range of motion of both hips is minimal.
  • A reverse thoracolumbar scoliosis with the lumbar apex to the right is noted to be present.
  • Varying degrees of tenderness exist over the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine.
  • The patient speaks slowly and his voice demonstrates minimal volume.
  • He lacks any affect.
  • His speech is hesitant and the sounds are almost unintelligible.
  • His wife acts as an interpreter which is helpful.


  1. Neurodegenerative Disorder (Multiple System Atrophy)
  2. Parkinson’s Disease.


The patient commenced treatment with Laser Therapy at our clinic, and this was applied over the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine, along with both shoulder joints. After five treatments to these areas, therapy was extended to the cerebral hemispheres, initially targeting the occipital lobe and eventually including the temporo-parietal and the frontal lobe

After seven days of daily treatment, there was noticeable improvement in his gait. The patient was able to rise from the seated position without help and recovered a relatively normal gait. His sleep problem was completely resolved and he was able to smile and speak in a normal fashion. Comprehension of all verbal communications had been largely restored.


Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a rare, progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by a combination of symptoms that affect both the autonomic nervous system (the part of the nervous system that controls involuntary action such as blood pressure or digestion) and movement. The symptoms reflect the progressive loss of function and apoptosis of nerve cells in the central nervous system.

Autonomic failure symptoms include fainting spells and problems with heart rate, erectile dysfunction and bladder control. Motor impairments (loss of or limited muscle control or movement, or limited mobility) may include tremor, rigidity, and/or loss of muscle coordination as well as difficulties with speech and gait. As these features are similar to Parkinson’s disease, it may be difficult to distinguish these disorders early in the course of the disease.

MSA can be divided into two different types:

  1. the Parkinsonian type (MSA-P), with primary characteristics similar to Parkinson’s disease (such as moving slowly, stiffness, and tremor) along with problems of balance, coordination, and autonomic nervous system dysfunction, and;
  2. the Cerebellar type (MSA-C), with primary symptoms featuring ataxia (problems with balance and coordination), difficulty swallowing, speech abnormalities or a quavering voice, and abnormal eye movements (“cerebellar” reflects a part of the brain involved with coordination)

The cause of MSA is unknown. There is noted accumulation of the protein alpha-synuclein in glial cells that support nerve cells in the brain, primarily oligodendroglia which produces myelin in the central nervous system. The same protein also accumulates in Parkinson’s disease, but within the nerve cells itself as opposed to the supporting glial cells in MSA1.

There are no known treatments to delay the progressive neurodegeneration associated with MSA and at this time there is no known cure. Current treatments are mostly supportive and convey minimal clinical benefit. In this case, the patient was referred to physiotherapists, occupational therapists, acupuncture practitioners, and an integrative medicine practitioner who detected the Epstein-Barr viral (EBV) antigen in his system. Presumably this is the reason he was placed on Acyclovir, which he felt did not convey any benefit.

Currently there are no studies that mention a connection between MSA and EBV, however the latter has been linked to an increased potential to develop Multiple Sclerosis (MS). For some individuals, Levodopa may improve motor function, however improvement is minimal and diminishes as the disease progresses.

Using cell models of MSA, scientists were able to show that both damage to the mitochondria (cellular “power plants”) and the generation of abnormal alpha-synuclein aggregates may contribute to the development of MSA. In a study conducted by Blin, et al, a significant age-related decrease in the activity of mitochondrial respiratory chain complex I was observed, supporting the hypothesis of a wide-spread mitochondrial complex I deficiency in PD and MSA as compared to age-matched controls, who only showed age-related deficiency. Deficits in complex III and IV activity (which includes cytochrome c oxidase) was also observed, but which was restricted to a few patients2.

Many investigators believe that Laser Therapy for brain disorders is one of the most important medical applications of Light Therapy. It is well accepted that with the overall aging of the general population, together with ever lengthening life spans, that Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease will become a global health problem and even after many years of research, no drug has been developed to benefit these neurodegenerative disorders3. Laser Therapy is a non-invasive, light-based therapy that utilizes a combination of red and infrared light sourced from red and infrared LED’s and laser diodes and for over 30 years has been effectively used in the treatment of many medical conditions, including musculoskeletal, dermatological problems, wound healing and more recently, the treatment of neurological conditions.

Photon particles of light are absorbed by the mitochondria through cytochrome c oxidase, causing a photo-dissociation of nitric oxide from cytochrome c oxidase resulting in increased cellular ATP levels. The dissociated nitric oxide levels also promote vasodilation and improve arterial perfusion.

Given that previous studies show mitochondrial involvement in both PD and MSA, there would be several key advantages for the use of Laser therapy for PD and MSA. Although in its infancy, with the bulk of results still at the pre-clinical “proof of concept” stage, Laser Therapy has the potential to develop into a safe and effective neuroprotective treatment for patients with Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases such as MSA. If Laser Therapy was applied at an early stage of the disease process it could without doubt stop progression of the disease and begin healing of the cells, along with the regenerative process based on its neuromodulation and neuroprotective effects. Over time this should achieve the objective of restoring the function and morphology of the neurons and other intracranial tissue resulting in significant improvement with regard to all clinical signs and symptoms4. Moreover, Laser therapy, with the accompanying lack of adverse side-effects, is amenable to use in conjunction with other treatments when available. Laser Therapy, as a specific treatment for MSA and other neurological conditions, is completely safe, simple to apply and in the context of a bleak future, for MSA patients in particular, offers a safe and specific therapeutic approach. This will not only extend the affected individual’s life span but also improve the quality of life for these patients and hopefully a return to normal activity levels.


This patient’s level of improvement after one week of daily treatments including November 19-24, was in excess of 70%. He was walking and communicating in a relatively normal fashion and required no assistance to accomplish this.

For logistical reasons, he returned to his home in Florida where his wife will continue to treat him on alternate days according to the protocols developed at the Meditech Rehabilitation Centre. He will return in four weeks for re-evaluation and continuing treatment under our direct supervision for an additional two weeks.

This case demonstrates the dramatic effect of Laser Therapy in the treatment of neurological conditions. It should be noted that the patient stated that he expects to return to work in March 2018.


  1. Multiple System Atrophy Fact Sheet | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
  2. Blin O, Desnuelle C, Rascol O, Borg M, Peyro Saint Paul H, Azulay JP, Billé F, Figarella D, Coulom F, Pellissier JF, et al. Mitochondrial respiratory failure in skeletal muscle from patients with Parkinson’s disease and multiple system atrophy. J Neurol Sci. 1994 Aug;125(1):95-101.
  3. Michael R. Hamblin. Shining light on the head: Photobiomodulation for brain disorders. BBA Clinical 6 (2016) 113–124
  4. Johnstone DM, Moro C, Stone J, Benabid AL, Mitrofanis J, Turning On Lights to Stop Neurodegeneration: The Potential of Near Infrared Light Therapy in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. Front Neurosci. 2015; 9: 500.