Therapeutic laser device on subject's headA device donated by Theralase Technologies is being used by researchers in the Faculty of Human Kinetics to launch a clinical study on Parkinson’s disease.

Donation of lasers aids research into Parkinson’s disease

Researchers in the Faculty of Human Kinetics hope to shed light on a possible novel treatment for Parkinson’s disease thanks to the donation of a device that uses lasers to stimulate the brain.

Canadian manufacturer Theralase Technologies has donated equipment for a groundbreaking clinical study into photobiomodulation as a treatment for Parkinson’s. Photobiomodulation, or PBM, uses low-level light to stimulate cells and promote healing.

“We’re excited to begin the very first randomized placebo-controlled trial on laser light therapy in Parkinson’s patients,” said kinesiology professor Anthony Bain, who is leading the study together with professors Sean Horton, Paula van Wyk, and Chad Sutherland, and chiropractor Luigi Albano of Walkerville Chiropractic. “We are especially grateful to be collaborating with Theralase on the project, and for their generous donation of the lasers.”

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder in which the brain loses its ability to control movement. The first symptom is usually tremors, but as the disease progresses, people with Parkinson’s may struggle with walking and talking, and can experience memory loss, chronic pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety, loss of the sense of smell, and other non-motor impairments.

PBM is a promising therapy, Dr. Bain said: “Preliminary studies and animal experiments exploring the use of PBM in Parkinson’s disease have demonstrated positive outcomes, including potential improvements in motor function and a reduction in symptoms.”

While PBM is considered an experimental therapy, it is non-invasive with few side effects.

Specifically for this study, Theralase has designed and manufactured a pair of devices that wrap around the head. One contains four low-temperature — or cool — lasers, which apply low-level light that permeates the skull. The other is a placebo device containing very low-powered lasers that do not permeate the skull.

As is common in double-blind studies, neither the patient nor the researchers know which device is which, ensuring the reliability of the research findings.

The research project — the subject of study by PhD student Brooke Shepley — is additionally funded by the Parkinson Society of Southwestern Ontario and the WE-Spark Health Institute.

To learn more about the study, email or phone 519-253-3000, ext. 4069.