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President’s Lecture Series begins with new look at lasers

By Staff | Sep 28, 2018

From left, Karen Rice, director of the Lifelong Learning Program; Dr. Juanita J. Anders, speaker; and Dr. Mary J.C. Hendrix, Shepherd president pose with a plaque recognizing Anders' speech, which was the beginning of the 2018 President's Lecture Series.

SHEPHERDSTOWN — In the first lecture of the 2018 President’s Lecture Series on Sept. 18, Uniformed Services University Professor of Anatomy, Physiology and Genetics Juanita Anders discussed “Photobiomodulaton Therapy: What Is It? How Does It Work? What Can It Do for You?”

Sponsored by the Shepherd University Lifelong Learning Program and Shepherd University Foundation, the series features topics related to a wide variety of academic disciplines throughout the school year, at the Robert C. Byrd Center.

“Dr. Juanita Anders is going to be lecturing us on Photobiomodulation, which uses non-invasive low-light laser therapy to heal,” said Shepherd University President Mary Hendrix at the beginning of the event. “We are so fortunate to have this pioneer in research here at Shepherd University.”

Anders, who was not representing any governmental or academic institution with her lecture, described in detail how PBMT works biologically, and the hope it could offer the medical community.

“I promised in the event title that I would tell you what PBM is, because if you go online, it’s very confusing,” Anders said, mentioning many people in the medical community shy away from considering low-level laser therapy as a legitimate medical tool.

According to Anders, the medical community’s disbelief in the potential of lasers is the result of a lack of PBMT research and the prevalence of laser usage in alternative medicine establishments.

“People don’t want magic, they want grounded, proven healing. Not chakras or magic,” Anders said, mentioning that, while lasers can be easily bought, only high-quality ones within a specific part of the light ray spectrum can produce an effective result from application to a person’s body.

“Photobiomodulation is the mechanism by which non-ionizing optical radiation in the visible and near-infrared spectral range is absorbed by endogenous chromophores to elicit photo-physical and photo-chemical events at various biological scales,” Anders said.

“Photobiomodulation therapy is a photon therapy based on the principles of PBM. It involves the use of non-ionizing forms of light sources, including lasers, LEDs and broadband light, in the visible and infrared spectrum to cause physiological changes and therapeutic benefits,” Anders said, explaining PBMT gives energy to cells to regenerate and heal themselves.

According to Anders, PBMT is already successfully used in Canada, New Zealand, Germany and around the globe. PBMT has been used in pre-clinical trials in the U.S. to suppress pain and regrow tissue, by increasing laser wavelength and power to target specific areas of the body. The benefit of having a nonpharmaceutical, nonmedicinal pain management alternative is obvious to Anders, who said not only is this a treatment to block pain allow people to retain their motor function, but that it is also “a better alternative than using ultrasound for back pain.”

Anders hopes to see funding for PBMT research to increase, so the American medical community will accept PBMT as a legitimate alternative for healing and pain management. In the next two years, Anders plans to increase PBMT research in pain management and Transcranial Laser Therapy, thanks to a grant she recently received.

“I just received a grant for two years of funding from the Department of Defense to do more research on these two areas of PBMT,” Anders said, mentioning she also hopes further research will encourage doctors to use PBMT to treat mitochondrial diseases which are currently without effective treatments, and to use PBMT in the proactive prevention of progressive age-related cognitive and functional decline.