Infrared light therapy may offer support for dementia patients

Durham University/North News & Pictures

Infrared light therapy might have the potential to help people living with dementia, according to new research published in the journal Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine, and Laser Surgery.

The pilot study led by researchers from Durham University found improvements in the memory, motor function, and processing skills of healthy people with normal intellectual function for their age.

As a result, the researchers said transcranial photobiomodulation therapy (PBM-T), where infrared light is self-delivered to the brain using a specially designed helmet worn by the patient, might potentially also have benefits for people with dementia.

For the study, researchers looked at 14 healthy people, aged 45 and over, from the United Kingdom, who received six minutes of PBM-T twice daily at a wavelength of 1068 nanometres over a period of four weeks. This was carried out alongside a control group of 13 members using a dummy PBM-T helmet.

Scientists conducted a series of memory, verbal, and motor skills tests on the participants in both groups before and after the treatment period to see what improvements in function might have been achieved.

The researchers found a signi´Čücant improvement in performance in motor function, memory performance, delayed memory, and brain processing speed, in healthy people who had received PBM-T compared to those in the control placebo group. Participants reported no adverse effects caused by the treatment.

They stressed that more research into the use and effectiveness of the therapy was needed, but that the findings of their pilot were promising.