Sensory and motor responses after photobiomodulation associated with physiotherapy in patients with incomplete spinal cord injury: clinical, randomized trial

Lasers Med Sci. 2020 Oct;35(8):1751-1758. doi: 10.1007/s10103-020-02968-6. Epub 2020 Apr 26.


Complete or incomplete spinal cord injury (SCI) results in permanent neurological deficits due to the interruption of nerve impulses, causing the loss of motor and sensory function, which leads to a reduction in quality of life. The focus of rehabilitation for such individuals is to improve quality of life and promote functional recovery. Photobiomodulation (PBM) has proved to be promising complementary treatment in cases of SCI. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of PBM combined with physiotherapy on sensory-motor responses below the level of the injury and quality of life in individuals with SCI. Thirty participants were randomized for allocation to the PBM group (active PBM + physiotherapy) or sham group (sham PBM + physiotherapy). Physiotherapy was administered three times a week. Sensitivity and motor skills were evaluated using the ASIA impairment scale. Quality of life was assessed using the WHOQOL-BREF questionnaire. The data were analyzed with the level of significance set to 5%. Improvements in sensitivity and an increase in the perception of muscle contraction were found in the active PBM group 30 days after treatment compared with the sham group. The results of the WHOQOL-BREF questionnaire revealed a significant difference in general quality of life favoring the active PBM group over the sham group after treatment. Physiotherapy combined with PBM leads to better sensory-motor recovery in patients with SCI as well as a better perception of health and quality of life. Trial registration identifier: NCT03031223.

Keywords: Photobiomodulation; Physiotherapy; Spinal cord injuries.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low-Level Light Therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / radiation effects*
  • Muscle Contraction / radiation effects
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Quality of Life
  • Recovery of Function / radiation effects
  • Sensation / radiation effects*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / radiotherapy
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / therapy*
  • Young Adult

Associated data