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Questioning the Value of Laser Therapy Article

November 1, 2007
by root
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Addiction Professional has sunk to a new low in publishing an

article on low-level laser therapy for addictions (July/August 2007 issue). This technique is bunk; P.T. Barnum would have loved it. There is absolutely no solid research supporting its efficacy, either in the treatment of addictions or in other medical conditions in which it has been tried. In fact, in a quick online search of “low-level laser therapy,” I could not find a single study of any methodological quality that showed an effect for this treatment.

I wonder why the “psychologists” (unidentified either in the article or on their own Web site) at the Matrix Institute of Laser Therapy in Canada haven't published a single study of this technique. They don't even have evidence beyond testimonials on their Web site to document its effectiveness.

I'm not surprised that Irene Terry was cautious about applying this technique that falls in the same category as homeopathy, chiropractic, Orgone therapy, and other so-called “alternative” therapies that have failed the test of good scientific research. Her claims of universal success are absurd. How did she control for possible explanations other than that her cherished technique was producing outcomes? How severe were the problems she was treating? How long did she follow her clients? Did she do any other treatments besides laser therapy, and if so, how does she rule out the possibility that it was those treatments rather than laser therapy that produced the outcomes she claims? In what journals has she published her results? Has she even submitted her results to peer review in a reputable journal or publication?

In this age of increasing emphasis on bringing counselors and other addiction professionals up to speed on evidence-based (meaning research-supported) practices, why does Addiction Professional waste space on this nonsense?

Frederick Rotgers, PsyD, ABPP, Associate professor of psychology, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Irene Terry of the Healing Laser Therapy Center in Ohio replies:

Show me how you can heal a person with addictions and I'll show you I can, as there are many cases where we have had tremendous, positive effects. It's a shame that the United States is so far behind in laser technology. It has been used for years in other parts of the world. We do not use other drugs to mask the existing drug or alcohol problem; just light to bring balance back to the body. This “bunk” is nothing more than the conversion of light into another form of energy.

The book Therapeutic Lasers: Theory and Practice, co-authored by G. David Baxter, reviews research findings and presents principles of good practice. What is most interesting is that professionals do care and have an interest in this “bunk.”