A team led by Dr Paul Chazot of Durham University and GP Dr Gordon Dougal now say it may also benefit those with dementia. They stressed that more research was needed on transcranial photobiomodulation therapy (PBM-T) but their findings were positive. Dr Chazot said: “There are promising indications that therapy involving infrared light might also be beneficial for people living with dementia and this is worth exploring.”
The UK pilot follows a US study that indicated infrared treatment had a positive effect on people with mild to moderate dementia.
Dr Chazot explained particular wavelengths of infrared light were known to help alleviate nerve cell damage. The £7,250 PBM-T helmet was devised by Dr Dougal, who is a GP in County Durham, for the firm Maculume.
It delivers infrared light from 14 fan-cooled LED light arrays deep into the brain.
Dr Dougal said it “may well help dying brain cells regenerate into functioning units once again”.
Grandmother Tracy Sloan, 56, has used one to improve her memory.
The GP’s administrator is healthy and has no diagnosed condition that would affect her memory, but has noted improvement in her daily life.
She said: “I have a bad memory to start with. I wasn’t sure it would make a difference, but to be honest I think it did.
“I noticed that my sleeping pattern was better, I felt more relaxed and I had more energy.”
In the UK test 14 healthy people aged 45 and over received six minutes of PBM-T twice a day for a month. A control group of 13 people used a dummy helmet.
Researchers noted a significant improvement in motor function, memory and brain processing speed in those using the therapy helmet.
The findings were published in the journal Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine And Laser Surgery.