Since the mid-90's, researchers have been studying how light-emitting diodes,
or LED's might aid in the healing process. These tiny ultra-efficient bulbs
like the ones found in digital clocks and television remotes produce near-infrared
light, a form of energy just outside the visible range. LED's are now found in
widespread use in flashlights and other electronic displays. The National Aeronautics
and Space Administration (NASA),the Pentagon and dozens of hospitals have
participated in clinical trials using LED's for a variety of uses.
LED technology was originally developed by NASA to stimulate plant growth in space.
Now, the agency uses LED's to build astronauts' muscles and to accelerate wound healing
during weightlessness. On board the USS Salt Lake City, a nuclear submarine,wound healing
time was cut in half. Healing of Navy SEALs' training musculoskeletal injuries improved
by 40% with the use of LED's.
Dr. Harry Whalen*, Professor of Neurology, Pediatrics, and Hyperbaric Medicine at
the Medical College of Wisconsin, used LED's to help children being treated for cancer.
In this study, LED's reduced one of the side effects of chemotherapy called mucositis
(sores in the mouth and throat) with exposure to LED light on the cheek for just over
a minute a day.
*Dr. Whelan has been inducted into the NASA Space Technology Hall of Fame for his
research into the use of LEDs for wound healing and the treatment of brain tumors.