Changes in Brain Function and Structure After Self-Administered Home Photobiomodulation Treatment in a Concussion Case

Front Neurol. 2020 Sep 8;11:952. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2020.00952. eCollection 2020.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a common neurological disorder among athletes. Although there are no widely accepted treatments for TBI, new investigational approaches, such as photobiomodulation (PBM), are being tested. PBM is a light therapy that uses red to near-infrared (NIR) light to stimulate, heal, and protect tissue that has been injured or is at risk of dying. Benefits following transcranial PBM treatments in animal models of acute TBI and a small number of chronic TBI patients have been reported. However, the human PBM TBI studies published to date have been based on behavioral assessments. This report describes changes in behavioral and neuroimaging measures after 8 weeks of PBM treatments. The subject was a 23-year professional hockey player with a history of concussions, presumed to have caused his symptoms of headaches, mild anxiety, and difficulty concentrating. He treated himself at home with commercially available, low-risk PBM devices that used light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to emit 810-nm light pulsing at 10 or 40 Hz delivered by an intranasal and four transcranial modules that targeted nodes of the default mode network (DMN) with a maximum power density of 100 mW/cm2. After 8 weeks of PBM treatments, increased brain volumes, improved functional connectivity, and increased cerebral perfusion and improvements on neuropsychological test scores were observed. Although this is a single, sport-related case with a history of concussions, these positive findings encourage replication studies that could provide further validation for this non-invasive, non-pharmacological modality as a viable treatment option for TBI.

Keywords: cognition; home treatment; neuroimaging; photobiomodulation; traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Publication types

  • Case Reports