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16th April 2024 Latest News Parkinson’s

Update on light therapy study

Margaret light therapy (1)

The five-year clinical study of light therapy for Parkinson’s symptoms has been continuing to show promising results!  

The study aims to understand if light therapy, known as photobiomodulation or PBM, could be effective to reduce some of the motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.  

It has been led by Dr Ann Liebert from the University of Sydney, alongside The Hospital Research Foundation Group – Parkinson’s, Sydney Adventist Hospital and Griffith University. 

 Twelve participants were recruited back in 2019, who used a combination of infrared LEDs targeting the head and infrared laser targeting the abdomen and the neck.  

 After five years, there are seven participants who have been continuing light therapy over this time, with early findings showing significant improvement across all measurements.

While analysis is still ongoing, Dr Liebert is pleased to share some general comments 

  • All participants had a faster walking speed, a longer stride and better dynamic and static balance compared to before treatment 
  • A majority showed improvement in their MDS-UPDRS-motor score (Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale), and a faster timed up-and-go 
  • All participants improved their cognitive score (Montreal Cognitive Assessment – MoCA) from before the light treatment  
  • A majority of participants had an improvement in the quality-of-life self-assessment (PDQ39) and the quality of sleep self-assessment (PDSS)  
  • Also, three of the participants regained their sense of smell within the first year of treatment and this has mostly continued to improve 
  • Another interesting result seen early on was the change to the gut microbiome that occurred along with the improvement in symptoms.

We are very excited about the possibilities of PBM treatment as an addition to Parkinson’s medications! We look forward to sharing more results from this five-year reassessment as they become available.

Light therapy clinical trial:

 All participants were initially treated three times per week by Sharon Tilley, an expert laser therapist, at Morialta Uniting Church for 12 weeks. After this they continued treatment in their own homes with home devices.  

 Their symptoms were assessed by Dr Ann Liebert, Sharon Tilley, Liisa Laakso and Brian Bicknell, before they began treatment, after the first 12 weeks of treatment and again after a year of continued treatment.  

 Participants were assessed by a neurologist with the MDS-UPDRS, as well as having a range of motor symptoms assessed such as walk speed, timed up-and-go, fine motor ability and balance, and non-motor assessments such as cognition, quality-of-life and sleep quality questionnaires.