Simple Success with Laser
Spike had been a stalwart, reliable school horse in a large county-owned riding program for many years. Even after he lost his right eye four years ago, he still was a favorite among the beginner riders. At 14.3 HH, the red roan Appaloosa had a pleasant, almost clown-like appearance and attitude. However, last year, after his arthritic knees became so painful that he could not even participate in a walking lesson, the school came to the decision that Spike needed to be retired to the school’s adoption program. He had also become very difficult for the blacksmith and their veterinarian had recommended medicating him with phenylbutazone. Adoption seemed highly unlikely as he became more pain-ridden and stiff. That is when Dr. Shari Silverman, a New Jersey-based veterinarian focused on veterinary pain mediation, entered the scene.
“The first time I saw him,” says Dr Silverman, “he walked like an old man taking tiny steps and swinging his legs to avoid bending his knees. After a few treatments, he began walking like a normal horse.” Even the volunteers at the retirement program noticed a significant change in Spike’s attitude and activity as he returned to the clownish character they had once known. “Treating Spike with laser therapy has returned him to activity and improved his chances of adoption.”
Laser therapy is far from limited to human rehabilitation medicine. Veterinary medicine has jumped on board with enthusiasm over the use of laser therapy to speed healing and alleviate pain. As in human medicine, laser therapy is also used by veterinarians for sports injuries, fracture and wound healing, chronic and acute pain issues; in short, just about anything you would use a laser for in human medicine can be duplicated in veterinary medicine.
The Main Biological Effects of Laser Light
- Pain relief
- Reduced inflammation
- Increased blood flow to injured tissues
- Accelerated tissue repair and cell growth
- Accelerated wound healing
- Reduced formation of scar tissue
- Improved nerve function
Recently one of the horses at Spring Reins of Hope in Pittstown, NJ, severely cut her hind leg. Dr Silverman used laser treatment on the wound with the result that the healing time has been much faster than anticipated.
Another horse at Spring Reins of Hope is Director Christianna Carpa’s own horse, Spring. After a fall on the ice last year, he had a persistent swelling over his right shoulder and was stiff on that limb. “After one treatment, the shoulder was almost normal,” reports Christianna. “I couldn’t believe what a difference. The shoulder had been a problem for almost a year. An important participant in the Equine Assisted Psychotherapy program here, Spring helps heal people suffering grief, veterans with PTSD and he even works with at-risk gang kids. How could he continue to do any of that if he was hurting? ”
Some animals respond very quickly to laser treatment and only require a few sessions to see marked improvement. Others, particularly those with chronic problems, need to be seen more often and may need a maintenance program. Initially, Dr. Silverman treated Spike once a week. After six sequential treatments, Dr. Silverman now only comes back once every few months to check on Spike and give him a maintenance treatment. “Now when I see him, he looks as good as he did the last time I saw him. We can’t give him new knees and we haven’t cured his arthritis, but we have gotten his pain to a very manageable level and the change in his quality of life is remarkable.”
But it is not just horses that can benefit by the use of laser therapy. Jaimie, a well-groomed sable collie, had been an active dog. Now, in her older years, arthritis was definitely affecting her quality of life. Her regular veterinarian had prescribed some pain medication but she continued to be limited by pain and weakness in her limbs.
Jaimie has been a close companion to Elaine and it broke Elaine’s heart to see her best friend in pain. She asked Dr Silverman if she could help her dog. “Elaine was so desperate. The love between these two is so special and Jaimie was suffering,” said Dr Silverman. “The first time I saw Jaimie, she had knots of pain in the muscles along her back. After I treated her back with laser therapy, the knots just disappeared and she immediately seemed more comfortable. Treating Jaimie with laser therapy improved her quality of life and relieved Elaine of her worry.”
If done correctly, there is little or no sensation during laser therapy. Most patients seem to genuinely enjoy their treatments and no patient sedation or restraint is needed. “Jaimie is so excited to see Dr Silverman,” says Elaine. “She loves her treatments and often dozes off while she is getting treated.”
Laser therapy is a non-invasive and extremely gentle form of treatment with virtually no side-effects. However, the use of a laser as a medical device should be done by veterinary medical practitioners to ensure that an adequate diagnosis has been obtained prior to treatment so that the use of the laser does not inhibit healing and more effective medical treatment is not being overlooked.
Apollo Lasers are powerful, state-of-the-art portable or desktop lasers that reduce pain, inflammation and stimulate healing. The low-level laser technology safely penetrates the skin one to two inches, effectively stimulating regeneration of damaged cells and tissues. This process brings rapid h
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