Role of Infrared Light Therapy in Treating Dementia

Role of Infrared Light Therapy in Treating Dementia

Dementia is thought to be a single disorder, but it is a term that incorporates a broad spectrum of certain mental conditions like Parkinson's disease, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s, etc. Such diseases not only take away your memory but can also affect your whole life. Every person suffering from any of these diseases has a different experience; in one way or another, it affects their normal life. As their experiences vary, so do their needs for care and support. You can only imagine how hard it is to live with such a disease.

Fortunately, there are new treatment options available that can help manage the symptoms of dementia and improve the quality of life for those affected by this condition.

In this article, we will explore how infrared light therapy has emerged as a promising option in the treatment of dementia and discuss what current research says about its benefits and potential risks. Read on to learn more!

What is Dementia?

Due to different causes, the human brain suffers from various disorders. These disorders can be classified into three groups listed below:

  1. Traumatic incidents like brain injury, stroke, and traumatic and global ischemia.
  2. Degenerative diseases like Dementia, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
  3. Psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dementia is viewed as a group of symptoms that impact memory, thinking and social capabilities acutely enough to intervene with your day-to-day life. Dementia itself is not a particular disease, but various diseases advance and can cause Dementia. Alzheimer's disease is a kind of Dementia that is most common.

Dementia and Alzheimers can affect a person’s everyday life and patient care can cost a lot. Infrared therapy is believed to slow, stop or reverse dementia. According to research, slowing down the decline can be beneficial. For example, according to research, If dementia could be detected early and delayed by using infrared light, it could save up to  £21.2bn by the year 2050. Another research carried out about the cost of dementia in care facilities shows that it costs around $6000 per patient. If by using IR therapy, we delay the admission of the patient in the care facility by 2 months, the family could save a lot.

Symptoms: Clear Signs of Dementia

Some evident cognitive changes that can be noticed in patients who have Dementia are memory loss, communication issues, difficulty handling visual and altitudinal abilities, reasoning, problem-solving, planning, organizing, coordination, motor functions, e.t.c. Dementia patients also feel confused about performing simple tasks. Apart from cognitive changes, dementia patient suffers from psychological changes like depression, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, nervousness, fear and several noticeable behavioral and personality changes.

Causes of Dementia: What Leads to Dementia?

The main cause of Dementia is damage to nerve cells. Moreover, the suppression of brain cells and their bonds in the brain also causes Dementia. The symptoms caused by Dementia depend solely on the damaged area of the brain. Some diseases that affect memory or loss of concentration are sometimes confused with Dementia but are caused by a reaction to medication or caused by any vitamin deficiency; such conditions could be treated or improved with simple treatment. 

Potential ways to Diagnose Dementia:

It could sometimes be challenging to diagnose Dementia; for a precise diagnosis, the doctor will investigate the patient's medical history and symptoms and conduct a physical examination. It is also essential that the doctor asks an individual who knows you well about your symptoms. Additionally, the doctor must recognize the paradigms of loss of skill. Doctors will evaluate your thinking ability and run a number of cognitive and neuropsychological tests to measure your cognitive processes like memory, reasoning and decision-making skills, language skills and focus. 

A single test can not diagnose Dementia, so doctors are likely to run several tests that can help identify the problem. Further diagnosis includes: 

  • Neurological Evaluation: This includes the ability to recall speech, faculty of sight, attention, analytical ability, movement, consciousness, balance, reflexes, and other areas.
  • Brain Scans: Scans like CT and MRI are conducted to check for signs of a stroke, bleeding, or tumor growth. This is done to analyze the brain for any type of damage or changes in the brain structure.
  • PET Scans: These scans can show patterns of brain activity and whether the amyloid or tau protein, hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease, have been deposited in the brain.
  •  Laboratory Tests: Lab tests like simple blood tests can identify physical problems that can affect brain function. 
  • Psychiatric Evaluation: Last but not least, a psychiatric evaluation done by a mental health professional can decide whether depression or another mental health condition is contributing to your symptoms.
  • QEEG and ERP: Quantitative Electroencephalogram and Event-Related Potentials are the most modern methods that are also used for the assessment of Dementia. QEEG is a method of measuring the brain activity using EEG, and ERP is a technique used to measure electrical activity in the nervous system. 

Potential Treatments Of Dementia 

Treatment for most types of Dementia is not yet found, but some ways to manage symptoms exist. These treatments can help to control the symptoms of mild dementia to some extent, but no studies show that any of these treatments can fully cure dementia.

  • Memantine. Memantine has the ability to control the activity of glutamate, a chemical messenger involved in brain functions such as learning something or storing a memory. In some cases, your doctor will prescribe memantine with a cholinesterase inhibitor. Memantine can sometimes cause dizziness, so it must be used carefully.
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors. These medications work by increasing levels of a chemical messenger involved in memory and judgment. Medicines may include Aricept (Donepezil), Razadyne (Galantamine), and Exelon (Rivastigmine). Cholinesterase inhibitors may cause bradycardia. They can also cause nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Other side effects may include fainting and may disrupt sleep.
  • Other Medications: Doctors might also prescribe some other medications to cure symptoms of Dementia like sleep issues, anxiety, depression, e.t.c.

 Apart from all the potential treatments for Dementia stated above, Infrared light therapy is believed to be a breakthrough in the world of discoveries for the treatments of Dementia. According to researchers, delivering infrared light to the brain via a specially designed infrared light device would benefit patients with moderate Dementia and other related diseases. Photobiomodulation Therapy (PBM) is a sort of light therapy that utilizes red or near-infrared light to recover and preserve tissue that has been injured, degenerating, or at risk of dying.

Research Supporting the Effect of Infrared Light on the Treatment of Dementia

According to research on the treatment of Dementia using Photobiomodulation  (light therapy that uses infrared light to heal damaged tissues or protect ones that are degenerating or dying).

According to research, older patients having mild to severe Dementia were exposed to infrared light for 12 weeks using a commercially available wearable infrared device. The caregivers and researchers kept a journal to keep track of their patient's performance. According to them, after 12 weeks of transcranial treatment with a commercially available PBM device, patients with mild to severe dementia showed improvements like better sleep patterns, decreased anxiety, better control over anger, and improved socialization. 

Infrared Light Therapy Devices: A Modern Approach to Treatment of Dementia

Devices like nasal lasers, microcurrent devices, infrared light helmets, and many more are available in the market for the treatment of Dementia and other psychoneurotic diseases. They may not cure Dementia, but they can help control the symptoms and make everyday life easy for people suffering from Dementia.

Among them, a handy device is a photobiomodulation brain therapy helmet. It is a device that can be very helpful for using infrared light for the treatment of Dementia. Additionally, it is noticed that an infrared light helmet with a light wavelength between 800nm to 1100nm ​​works best by penetrating through the brain tissue. 

The light is absorbed by mitochondria (the powerhouse of cells). The mitochondria convert this light into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The increase in ATP levels benefits our brain by reducing inflammation and increasing nitric oxide production. Increased ATP levels also stimulate cell regeneration and improve cell function. The helmet has quadrants that allow us to control where the light and frequencies go and do not go—allowing for a more customized and sophisticated treatment.

All these factors lead to better brain health, aiding in the treatment of dementia. Furthermore, an infrared light helmet is a risk-free, efficient, and non-invasive treatment. 

Yet there is a lot more to be discovered about the treatment of Dementia; photobiomodulation infrared light therapy is a new hope for the treatment of Dementia and other psychoneurotic disorders.

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