How Photobiomodulation Finally Improved My Quality of Life Three Years After a Brain Injury
In my article titled The Healthcare System is Broken, Not You, I discussed suffering a concussion in April 2016 and experiencing significant intermittent symptoms for the next three years. Neurologists couldn’t help me, the emergency room couldn’t help me, even physical therapy couldn’t help me for long. More than one provider inferred my problems were psychiatric instead of what they truly were: an issue with cerebral blood flow in multiple areas of my brain caused by the impact of my head striking pavement.
A Breakthrough 37 Months Later
It wasn’t until I discovered functional neurology, and eventually a wearable device that emits infrared photobiomodulation that I lovingly refer to as a space helmet, into the brain that all my symptoms stopped. I’m deliberately not naming the manufacturer or the specific device so as not to be promotional. I only want to share the experience and not sell anything. To appreciate the life-changing nature of photobiomodulation, here are all the symptoms I struggled with off and on since the day I fell off a bicycle and hit the back of my head on the driveway:
- Balance problems
- Cognitive decline or changes
- Cognitive function problems
- Decreased judgement
- Difficulty following instructions
- Difficulty integrating information
- Difficulty learning new things
- Difficulty performing familiar tasks
- Difficulty with concentration
- Disorientation to time and/or place
- Frequent dizziness
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Impulse control problems
- Involuntary tics/tremors
- Losing things
- Loss of motivation
- Low frustration tolerance
- Making careless mistakes
- Performance anxiety
- Problems paying attention
- Problems with language/word finding
- Racing thoughts
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to sound
- Sensitivity to touch
- Short-term memory problems
- Sleeping too much
As you can see, mine was not just a concussion that would get better within a few weeks. It affected nearly every aspect of my life. Medical researchers don’t always know why some people bounce back quickly from a concussion and others deal with symptoms indefinitely. In my case, I had underlying neurological issues that had also been labeled psychological before I ever hit my head that became much worse afterwards.
What is Photobiomodulation and How Does It Work?
The term photobiomodulation refers to light therapy. I wear a device on my head with an attachment that goes into the nostril 20 minutes each day. The device uses LED, low-level lasers, and several broadband sources of light. It doesn’t release any heat into the head, skull, or brain. Every person has chromophores in their brain that can absorb this type of light. Once that happens, it prompts the cells to undergo complex chemical reactions and physical changes.
Photobiomodulation can help to decrease brain inflammation, regenerate tissues, reduce chronic pain, speed wound healing, and strengthen the immune system. Various forms of the device I use are currently going through clinical trials with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It does not yet have FDA approval and manufacturers cannot claim it heals any specific health condition.
The intranasal piece that clips to the inside of a nostril is what allows for stimulation of core brain structures located deep inside of the brain. It also increases mitochondrial activity in the brain cells, which means that the infrared waves help to convert nutrients and oxygen into chemical energy.
Although it cost me almost $1,800 out of pocket, I consider it the best investment I have made in my brain recovery. The second-best was to see a functional neurologist and leave the traditional medical system behind. It was through my functional neurologist that I learned this device was available for home use in the first place.
The Space Helmet Has Finally Put Me on the Road to Permanent Recovery
I was having daily seizures and a host of other issues when I went to see my functional neurologist this spring. As an EEG two years earlier showed no signs of true epilepsy, I was desperate for some relief. Just five minutes wearing this device in the office stopped my seizures completely within 48 hours. I also experienced instant relief of my brain fog, depression, and balance problems that were the most troubling to me behind the seizures.
I still struggle with mild symptoms when I’m in a situation that overloads my senses. A good example is a loud, busy environment such as a party where I have too much input coming in for my brain to handle. This would have set off symptoms that lasted for days prior to starting photobiomodulation treatment, but it only lasted for minutes the few times it has happened in the last month.
While I wish I would have found this therapy in 2016, I’m grateful that I finally did. It has given me back a life I sometimes felt convinced was over at age 51. My advice would be to keep an open mind about treatments for brain injury because there is little the traditional medical system can do to help. It’s a long road I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, but simple things like a beautiful Saturday afternoon fill me with joy in a way they never did before my brain injury.
Other articles in my brain injury series:
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
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© 2019 Lisa Kroulik