Photobiomodulation for

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) can have long-lasting effects on a person's health and well-being, including cognitive impairment, sleep disturbance, mood dysregulation, and anxiety. 

While there is currently no standard treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), some novel approaches are being investigated, including photobiomodulation treatment (PBM) utilizing near-infrared light stimulation. Clinical studies utilizing PBM for individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) have shown promising results, in terms of improvements in cognition, verbal memory, PTSD, and sleep.

The symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) may include:

Here are some potential benefits of PBM for TBI:

  • Reducing inflammation: PBM can help reduce inflammation in the brain, which is a common symptom of TBI. A study by Xuan et al. (2014) found that PBM reduced levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in mice with TBI, leading to improved cognitive function.
  • Stimulating neurogenesis: PBM can also stimulate the growth of new neurons in the brain, which can help repair damage caused by TBI. A study by Oron et al. (2007) found that PBM increased the number of new neurons in the hippocampus of rats with TBI.
  • Improving mitochondrial function: PBM can improve the function of mitochondria, which are responsible for producing energy in cells. A study by Naeser et al. (2014) found that PBM improved mitochondrial function in patients with TBI, leading to improved cognitive function and quality of life.
  • Reducing oxidative stress: PBM can help reduce oxidative stress in the brain, which is a common result of TBI. A study by Hamblin et al. (2018) found that PBM reduced oxidative stress and improved mitochondrial function in a mouse model of TBI.
  • Although more research is needed to determine the optimal parameters for photobiomodulation treatment, such as wavelength, intensity, and duration, studies suggest this could be a non-invasive and potentially effective alternative or adjunct therapy for TBI patients:

Significant improvements in cognitive performance in people with chronic & mild TBI (traumatic brain injury)

Naeser, et al. (2014) carried out a study on 11 people who had persistent cognitive problems after suffering from traumatic brain injuries from accidents or sports. They received 18 sessions of light therapy over 6 weeks and the results showed significant cognitive improvements, better sleep, and fewer symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Positive changes in brain volumes, functional connectivity, cerebral perfusion, and neuropsychological test scores in a professional hockey player with TBI

A study by Chao, L. et al. (2020) discusses a case study of a professional hockey player who had a history of concussions and experienced headaches, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating. After 8 weeks of light therapy treatment, the player showed positive changes in brain volumes, functional connectivity, cerebral perfusion, and neuropsychological test scores.


1. Chao LL, Barlow C, Karimpoor M, Lim L. 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. PMID: 33013635; PMCID: PMC7509409.

2. Cheng G, Kong RH, Zhang LM, Zhang JN. Mitochondria in traumatic brain injury and mitochondrial-targeted multipotential therapeutic strategies. Br J Pharmacol. 2012 Oct;167(4):699-719. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2012.02025.x. PMID: 23003569; PMCID: PMC3575772.

3. Naeser MA, Zafonte R, Krengel MH, Martin PI, Frazier J, Hamblin MR, Knight JA, Meehan WP 3rd, Baker EH. Significant improvements in cognitive performance post-transcranial, red/near-infrared light-emitting diode treatments in chronic, mild traumatic brain injury: open-protocol study. J Neurotrauma. 2014 Jun 1;31(11):1008-17. doi: 10.1089/neu.2013.3244. Epub 2014 May 8. PMID: 24568233; PMCID: PMC4043367.

4. Oron A, Oron U, Streeter J, De Taboada L, Alexandrovich A, Trembovler V, Shohami E. Near infrared transcranial laser therapy applied at various modes to mice following traumatic brain injury significantly reduces long-term neurological deficits. J Neurotrauma. 2012 Jan 20;29(2):401-7. doi: 10.1089/neu.2011.2062. Epub 2012 Jan 4. PMID: 22040267.

5. Xuan W, Agrawal T, Huang L, Gupta GK, Hamblin MR. Low-level laser therapy for traumatic brain injury in mice increases brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and synaptogenesis. J Biophotonics. 2015 Jun;8(6):502-11. doi: 10.1002/jbio.201400069. Epub 2014 Sep 8. PMID: 25196192; PMCID: PMC5379854. 

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Continue reading below to learn more about photobiomodulation on a cellular level and understand the difference between wavelength and frequency.


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