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Shepherd University Nursing Department finds new way to revolutionize healthcare

By Staff | Sep 28, 2018

From left, Shepherd University Associate Professor Juanita J. Anderstalks talks about the future of Photobiomodulation Therapy with Dr. Robert Bowen, of Martinsburg, and Shepherd University Foundation Vice President Monica Lingenfelter on Sept. 18. Photo by Tabitha Johnston.

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Beginning in fall 2019, Shepherd University’s Nursing Department is introducing a new elective about Photobiomodulation into its coursework.

Photobiomodulation therapy uses high-quality, non-ionizing, low-level lasers to focus on specific areas of a person’s body. With the energy released through the laser therapy, a person’s cells are encouraged to regenerate and heal the person’s body, slow the effects of aging or temporarily suppress the body’s physical pain, according to Uniformed Services University Professor of Anatomy, Physiology and Genetics Juanita Anders, who is one of several top PBMT pioneers in the U.S. who are joining Shepherd University this year as associate professors.

Currently, Anders is helping the Doctor of Nursing Practice program develop an education and credentialing curriculum in PBMT.

“I think this photonic medicine is the future. I think there is extraordinarily strong data there, but we need a large clinical trial. It’s nonpharmaceutical, nonaddictive and I think very effective for healing and pain control,” Anders said, mentioning she will be conducting PBMT research for the next two years through a Department of Defense grant.

Shepherd University Acting Dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies and Chair of the Department of Nursing Education Sharon Mailey agreed with Anders, saying she believes this curriculum will set Shepherd University apart as a leader in the field, and will help its Doctor of Nursing Practice graduates and continuing education regional medical care providers prevent more people from becoming addicted to opioids, by providing an alternative pain management solution.

“PBM is important to West Virginians and to all citizens. Our state leads the nation in opioid overdose deaths. PBM’s effectiveness in treating pain can create a viable alternative treatment that will help reduce dependence on addictive and dangerous medications,” Mailey wrote in a Shepherd University pamphlet.

One major reason this new credentialing curriculum is necessary, is it will set a modern medical standard for the use of PBMT, so the medical community will be more likely to accept the alternative medical treatment. According to Anders, while some alternative medicine practitioners use PBMT effectively, there are many who give PBMT a bad rap or, as she put it, “there are a lot of shysters out there right now.”

However, in the world-wide modern medical community and in certain modern medical communities in the U.S., PBMT is widely accepted as a treatment option. One such community is in dentistry, according to George Washington Institute of Living Ethics Board Chair and Martinsburg-based Dentist Donald Patthoff.

“It’s not new — I’ve been using it in my practice since 1990. If you’ve got a problem, you can treat it with medication, with surgery, with exercise, with meditation — this is just another alternative you can do, to promote health and healing,” Patthoff said, mentioning dentistry is probably the field PBMT has been most accepted into in the U.S., because the dentistry community is two percent of the healthcare field and tends to be less diversified than other fields.

With the introduction of this credentialing curriculum and new research supporting PBMT, GWI Board Vice Chair and PBM Foundation Executive Director Scot Faulkner believes the medical community will be less likely to deny PBMT’s benefits, which are often considered the result of the placebo effect. Faulkner’s wife has used PBMT for pain management since 2017, and the results he has seen in her life have inspired him to push for legislation backing the use of “technological alternatives,” which will be considered during the U.S. House of Representatives’ science committee meeting on Oct. 11.

“I’ve been working on this for months, to help them understand this can have a major effect on the use of opioids,” Faulkner said. “It’s easy to become passionate about it, because when you see it work, there’s not a dry eye among us — with PBMT, people are able to live in a functional state. It gives us hope for the future.”

To learn more about the initiative, contact Shepherd University Foundation Executive Director of Development Sherri Janelle at 304-876-5043 or sjanelle@shepherd.edu.

To donate, visit shepherduniversityfoundation.org/donate/, select “other” and enter “PBM” into the comments box. Checks can also be made payable to: Shepherd University Foundation P.O. Box 5000 Shepherdstown, WV 25443.