Transcranial Laser Therapy, a Promise for Stroke Patients

Each year, over 600,000 Americans suffer from a stroke, and 25% of those strokes are fatal.  Currently, the only therapy for an ischemic stroke patient is Plasminogen Activator (tPA), a drug designed to help dissolve the blood clot and restore blood flow to the brain, keeping further tissue damage from occurring.

However, transcranial laser therapy (TLT) is a two- to three-hour procedure in which infrared light is applied to 20 sites around the skull within 24 hours of the onset of a stroke.  The light is used to stimulate the production of ATP (Adenosine-5′-triphosphate) in the mitochondria, a key element for neural development and the cell survival after a stroke.

Currently, two clinical trials have been performed (NEST1 and NEST 2) with a third underway.  Results of the clinical trial indicated that 36.3% of the TLT patients (mild strokes) received successful outcomes compared to 30.9% for the control group.  Patients with moderate to severe stroke showed a 51.6% improvement after being treated with TLT compared to 41.9% of control group.

Along with being debilitating, it costs $28 billion to treat stroke patients.  I spoke with Dr. Norman Alan Paradis, M.D. and he said, “Stroke is the third largest cause of death and the most common cause of disability.  Outcomes are very dependent on early detection because the clock is running and a three-hour window doesn’t leave a lot of room for error.  There is a possibility of real therapies that will help salvage brain tissue and help improve the survival rate for stroke patients.”

I’ve been watching this technology for a while and recent results have shown that TLT has had mild success rate with ischemic stroke patients.  But, there are two things to take into consideration: there is a large market and the technology is still in its infancy.  As more studies are conducted, we’re getting closer and closer to patients having a viable treatment option to help them recover from the debilitating effects of a stroke.

James Laskaris, EE, BME
James Laskaris, EE, BME, Clinical Analyst — Mr. James Laskaris is a senior emerging technology analyst at MD Buyline and has been with the company since 1994. With over 30 years of experience in the healthcare field, Mr. Laskaris is the primary analyst of high-end OR technology. He also covers issues related to the legislative and reimbursement effect on healthcare and authors a bimonthly “Issues that Matter” publication. Mr. Laskaris received his biomedical engineering degree from Southern Illinois University. His work has been published in hfm Magazine, Radiology Manager and Healthcare Purchasing News.