Transcranial, red/near-infrared light-emitting diode therapy for chronic traumatic brain injury and poststroke aphasia: Clinical studies

Margaret A. Naeser, Paula I. Martin, Michael D. Ho, Maxine H. Krengel, Yelena Bogdanova, Jeffrey A. Knight, Andrea Fedoruk, Michael R. Hamblin, Bang Bon Koo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Transcranial photobiomodulation (PBM) therapy can treat a range of brain disorders including traumatic brain injury (TBI), poststroke aphasia, primary progressive aphasia (PPA), and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) within retired, professional football players. Chronic TBI patients with closed-head injury and cognitive dysfunction received 18 outpatient treatments (3×/week) starting at 10 months to 8 years. post-TBI (MVA, sports-related, IED blast injury). Each red/near-infrared light-emitting diode (LED) cluster head (5.35 cm diameter, 500 mW, 22.2 mW/cm2) was applied for 9.75 minutes (13 J/cm2) to 11 scalp placements: midline from front-to-back hairline; and bilaterally on frontal, temporal, and parietal areas. Testing performed pre- and posttranscranial LED (tLED) at 1 week, 1 and 2 months after the 18th treatment, showed significant improvement on executive function and verbal memory post-tLED. Fewer posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and improved sleep were reported. Treatment of stroke patients with aphasia was also examined, and it was found to be critically important where on the head the light was placed. If the PBM was delivered ipsilateral to the stroke, the ability to name pictures significantly improved, but if the PBM was delivered to both sides of the head (including over both the left and right supplementary motor areas at the vertex of the head), the ability to name pictures worsened or remained the same. A retired professional football player (65 years old; middle linebacker; 700 tackles in college; thousands of subconcussive hits), possibly developing early CTE was treated with tPBM. Increased functional connectivity (resting-state functional-connectivity MRI scans), and clinically significant reduction in emotional outbursts, depression, improved cognition and sleep were observed. Similar improvements were also observed in a second, retired professional football player (57 year old, cornerback), who was able to discontinue two narcotic pain medications with reduced tinnitus and improved vestibular function.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhotobiomodulation in the Brain
Subtitle of host publicationLow-Level Laser (Light) Therapy in Neurology and Neuroscience
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9780128153055
ISBN (Print)9780128153062
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Chromic traumatic encephalopathy
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Photobiomodulation
  • Poststroke aphasia
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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