On August 30 and September 1, 2015, I participated as a member of a “think tank” or “incubator” session at the Optical Society in Washington D.C. Participation was limited to approximately fifty people who work in the field of therapeutic laser so for me inclusion in this, by invitation only group, was certainly an honor. The purpose of the two days of meetings was to join resources and knowledge in order to integrate laser therapy (now “officially’ called Photobiomodulation or PDM) into mainstream medicine. As the only veterinarian present I was in the unique position to bring a clinical perspective in addressing researchers, human doctors, manufacturers and federal regulators as to the successes, the safety and the acceptance of this extraordinarily effective treatment. Several participants were very interested in our work particularly in the area of kidney disease, as we have greater freedom than do human practitioners in utilizing this therapy for this purpose. To think that the pilot work we do at the Brockton Animal Hospital could some day impact treatment of kidney disease in human medicine is truly humbling. The meetings lasted for two days during which research was presented, federal regulators addressed the issue of regulatory acceptance and we divided into smaller groups to chart the path forward. As it has been for the past eleven years it is very exciting to be actively engaged in this rapidly evolving field of medical treatment. As veterinarians we hold the unique position in currently using therapeutic lasers many times daily to treat a multitude of diseases. Osteoarthritis treatment in our hospital has become a standard use for light therapy. Wound healing, ear infections, kidney disease, bone healing, disc and spinal cord injury and disease and even traumatic brain injury (TBI) are but a few of the frequent applications.
Washington D.C.is an interesting experience. In having federal regulators, “DC insiders”, lobbyists all present at these meetings it gave great insight into just how involved a project such as integration of a medical treatment into medicine can become. For us, in our practice, it is a relief to have the freedom to use it at will whenever we see benefit. So to our clients, our patients and our colleagues we should all be thankful for our field of veterinary medicine. And for the thousands of patients we have treated with light therapy over the years, be glad you have four legs instead of two. Medicine can be much friendlier to you than to your human companions.