Laser-based therapy in sports rehabilitation
Laser therapy is a type of electromedical device that is becoming increasingly popular in sports rehabilitation. The laser possesses a directional light which means that it cannot be dispersed during its emission even if the therapy is carried out in the open. This characteristic makes it easy to use it away from a physiotherapy centre in situations such as away matches or other sports events. One of its greatest applications is undoubtedly on muscle-tendon problems due to its immediate pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effect. The laser beam penetrates the tissue and causes a biochemical response on the cell membrane, thus working directly on muscles, tendons and joints.
Provides pain relief
Promotes cell metabolism
It is a technique that has found a wide use in physiotherapy and sports rehabilitation. Since the 1990s, this type of therapy has been performed numerous times and has become increasingly popular. Today, an advanced laser therapy system allows an output of up to 25W, which is twenty times more powerful than the first laser therapy machines.
In fact, these new lasers penetrate more deeply into the tissues, promoting pain relief and vasodilation. It encourages a greater influx of nutrients, increasing the regenerative capacity of the tissues and ensuring the elimination of catabolites. Physiotherapists use this therapy to treat inflammation, arthrosis, tendinopathies and muscle injuries.
Laser therapy is performed in the therapeutic field, especially in the context of sports rehabilitation. Its ease of use and portability ensures that it can also be used during away sports events, as the physiotherapist accompanying the athlete can take the laser therapy machine with them.
This therapy involves the use of a laser applied to the part to be treated while the patient is sitting or lying on the exam table. The laser is unidirectional and reaches deep into the tissue, causing a feeling of heat in the treated area. Usually, a session lasts from 10 to 20 minutes.
Laser therapy for physiotherapeutic purposes has a triple function: it helps reduce inflammation following injury, provides pain relief and helps ensure tissue regeneration.
In particular, it can treat the following pathologies
The practitioner may decide whether it is appropriate to include laser therapy within a rehabilitation therapy following the removal of plaster casts, or following surgery. The laser causes no pain, except for a slight heat and tingling sensation when applied on the affected area. At the end of the treatment, patients can resume their normal routine as long as they are careful not to expose the part of the body that has undergone laser therapy to the sun.
Laser therapy shouldn’t automatically be considered a suitable solution for everyone. There are in fact certain categories of people who should avoid it.
Pregnant women and pacemaker wearers, for example, fall into this group. But that is not all. Epilepsy patients should avoid this type of therapy because pulsed light could trigger an epileptic seizure. In the case of cancer patients, laser therapy can be considered to provide palliative relief, but cannot be used to treat the disease itself.
In addition, it is important not to shine the laser light directly into the eyes. In order to avoid the risk of injury, safety glasses must be worn during the therapy to prevent the light from interfering with the session and disturbing both doctor and patient.