Did you get into laser therapy and what sort of treatment did you offer?
I qualified as a Registered Acupuncturist in 1989 and established a human practice in Gloucestershire, but having been involved with horses since a child, I began to see no reason why acupuncture shouldn't work for horses too. However under British law only a qualified veterinary surgeon can insert needles, so I looked for something else I could use - and found Laser !!
But it didn't stop with laser acupuncture - the healing properties of LLLT started to play an important role too, with the combined affect of both disciplines proving especially effective.
Currently I run my normal human practice, work alongside Physability-UK specialising in disability and paralysis, provide in-house services to several small animal veterinary practice and home/stable/yard visits for larger animals.
I am also putting together two research projects for both a Laser Acupuncture and an LLLT application.
When did you start to focus on training and why?
When I first started using laser some 16 years ago, there was not much training to be had and certainly nothing in the equine arena.
I started to think about laser courses from the early days - therefore every treatment I undertook, I photographed and documented and, alongside developing my understanding of how laser works both at a cellular level and from an acupuncture stand point, began to toss ideas around in the back of my mind as to how best to present and put this knowledge across to others.
What sort of people do you train?
Students are mostly established therapists who want to add to their skills, whether they be physiotherapists, massage therapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, vets, podiatrists, etc;
However, to a lesser extent there are others who just want to be able to do the best by their own horses/animals/family.
To date training has mostly revolved around the healing properties of LLLT, however work has now been started on a Laser Acupuncture Course which will hopefully be up and running in 2011.
How do they use this training/what results do they get?
Practitioners are usually pleasantly surprised just how easily laser therapy fits in with their mainstream therapies, providing a useful and effective adjunct to their normal practice.
Can you give us some examples?
There are numerous accounts of how effective LLLT is in helping to accelerate wound healing, from simple cuts to chronic infections or where infection has progressed deep into bone/hoof.
Fractures fortunately are seen less frequently, however here too x-ray evidence shows improved consolidation of bone formation post LLLT application.
An unexpected by-product reported by massage therapists, in particular, is that they are amazed at just how effective laser is at releasing muscle spasm - which in turn means less strain and fatigue on their own bodies whilst treating!
Why do you think LLLT has been slow to take hold in the UK?
This was discussed at length during the WALT Congress in Bergen, Norway last month and the general consensus was that although there is now a large volume of published research on the efficacy of LLLT, these papers are mainly confined to specialist journals and therefore not easily accessible by the general public.
Awareness will grow as research becomes more readily available, as seen when a publication in the Lancet on Pain was previewed in The Times (UK) recently - prompting a surge in interest both by professionals in the field and the general public at large.
What do you see as the future of LLLT in the UK?
I believe there is tremendous potential for LLLT in this country - provided its integrity and that of the therapists using it are upheld, which necessitates comprehensive understanding of how laser works and its most effective use based on sound study and research. There are so many areas to which its effects could be applied - greater relief of symptoms, faster healing, stronger tissue integrity and leading to perhaps less reliance on drugs and a consequent use of fewer dressings
... but I guess this is where there is a potential conflict of interests - not between LLLT and its patients, but between LLLT, drug companies and the dressings industry !!
What part do you see UKITL playing in the future of LLLT in the UK?
I believe great care needs to be exercised to ensure that the integrity of the laser industry is firmly upheld.
There are many new laser products arriving on the market making unsubstantiated claims and being distributed to the general public and therapists without the provision of adequate training.
The 'positive' effects of LLLT have been hard fought for and slow to be recognised, but its reputation could be so easily and quickly eroded by injudicious use and casual application.
I see UKITL as having the potential of playing an important role in providing a strong united voice for LLLT as a whole.
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