NASA & Infrared Light Therapy Healing

by Frank Mash

NASA & Infrared Light Therapy Healing

Astronauts assigned to space missions for long periods of time are in need of better medical care. NASA LEDs are said to significantly improve this through light therapy application. The mitochondria’s basic energy processes are stimulated by NASA LEDs. Color-sensitive chemicals inside including cytochrome and chromophores are activated through the near-infrared light. 

Spectroscopically measured, the human tissue penetration of near-infrared light is measured. 633 and 840 nm are identified as the optimal LED wavelengths. 

For instance, when looking at the spectra that come from leg calf muscles or the forearm’s wrist flexor muscles, you will see how most of the light photons travel 7 cm with 630 to 840 nm wavelengths. This goes through the muscle and surface tissue and uses the photon detector as an exit. 

When working with laboratory animals, it has been found that wounds heal better using near-infrared light. They also use hyperbaric oxygen and NASA LED light. In a single application that combines 4 joules/cm² with 680, 730, and 880 nm using NASA LED light only, the muscle cells and DNA synthesis in fibroblasts increase up to 5 times. 

Especially those who are assigned for long-term space flights, astronauts are at risk for more injuries. From minor ones to more serious bone and muscle atrophy, injuries suffered by astronauts are said to remain unhealed until they step foot back on Earth. Microgravity negatively affects the usual process of healing. Wounds and affected tissues do not grow as well as they would on Earth as they are in space. This is the reason why NASA had to do all these studies. Some have used plants as their point of study until the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approved studies done on humans. 

With these studies, it has been found that the pace of healing wounds when in an environment affected by microgravity such as in space, light therapy using LED can be very helpful. These light devices are proven the help treat injuries so they can be healed whether astronauts are on Earth or in space. 

Astronauts can benefit a lot from these light healing devices. However, these are also beneficial for the medical care needed by civilians and those involved in the military. 

Because of the great findings brought about by these light devices during experiments, there were even more studies and reviews made about it by experts. Many claimed and proved that ischemic and hypoxic wounds can be healed quicker through hyperbaric oxygen and laser light such as studies on infrared light therapy in human wound healing (Conlan, et al, 1996). A number of experts also studied about how cellular activity is increased during wound healing with the use of lasers for low energy tissue stimulation (Whelan, 1999; Salansky, 1998; Lubart, 1992, 1997; Yu, 1997; Beauvoit, 1989, 1995; Eggert, 1993; Karu, 1989). Among the activities studied were angiogenesis, collagen production, fibroblast proliferation, and growth factor synthesis. 

However, these lasers aren’t always perfect. There are certain characteristics of lasers that became problematic during these studies. For instance, certain wavelengths can’t be combined otherwise wound healing won’t be as efficient. Larger wounds are harder to treat through laser too. As an alternative, LED’s or light-emitting diodes are used. 

LEDs are used to treat larger wounds. They can be arranged flat and in larger arrays and can produce wavelengths in multiple numbers. Using laboratory animals, NASA has proven that the near-infrared LEDs they use are most effective in healing wounds at 680, 730, and 880 nm wavelengths. Again, this test has been approved for human trial by the FDA. Muscle cells and fibroblasts found in tissue culture has increased up to 5 times when using near-infrared LED light. 

Not only are these NASA LED arrays able to bring back space personal to their best condition within a shorter period of time, but they’re also light and mobile. Of course, when these devices are taken along in Space Shuttle missions, the equipment itself mustn’t be too bulky or heavy. 

To summarize, the best benefits offered by LED arrays aren’t only for NASA personnel. Military people and civilians use them too. They can be used to treat tissue regeneration, skin grafts that were compromised, tissue damage caused by radiation, traumatic ischemic wounds, atrophy in the bones and muscles, fractures that are non-healing, crush injuries, and serious burns.

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