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Healing with light

New technologies bring many benefits and infrared therapy is no exception, writes JESSICA MORTON.

Danish company Broholm, in close cooperation with a team of equine professionals, recently released a collection of innovative infrared devices designed to treat horses.

Infrared therapy provides non-invasive pain and inflammation relief with infrared light delivered through specially designed boots, blankets, wraps, lamps, and hand-held lasers. The Infrapower products are easy to use, have rechargeable batteries, and a timer that can be programmed as required.

During each treatment, light emitting diodes (LEDs) deliver a concentrated source of energy to the horse’s body through light photons that penetrate deep into their tissues and bones, producing a chain of physiological reactions that cause cell repair to be activated and accelerated.

When light therapy is applied to the horse’s soft tissues, the light photons interact with the cell’s cytochrome c complex, an enzyme in the mitochondria which triggers an effect that decreases pain and inflammation in the area. Unlike pharmaceuticals, infrared therapy stimulates the horse’s own healing mechanisms through molecular signaling and circulatory modulation – with no side effects associated with its use.

Treatment sessions usually last from 10 to 30 minutes and should be carried out multiple times per week over several weeks to see full benefits.

Going deeper

Infrared therapy works by delivering an energy boost at cellular level. The more efficiently cells function, the better the body will perform. The technology offers horse owners a non-pharmacological and non-invasive alternative to pain relief that helps replenish and boost the horse’s cell activity.

All Broholm’s infrared products operate on rechargeable batteries.

While chemical relief numbs pain, it does not address the underlying cause of the problem. Infrared therapy penetrates up to three centimetres under the skin to stimulate the mitochondria, tiny subcellular structures located in the body’s cells which are responsible for producing energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

An excess of free radicals within the body can lead to a condition called oxidative stress, where key cellular components such as proteins, lipids and DNA, are attacked. Prolonged oxidative stress reduces the mitochondria’s ability to produce ATP, resulting in inflammation, fatigue, lowered immunity and ultimately to the cell’s death.

When infrared LEDs are placed on the horse’s skin, the light waves stimulate a heightened yet totally natural cellular response which promotes the healing of wounds and injuries, relieves chronic pain, and regenerates tissue. Light therapy also improves blood flow, enabling oxygen and nutrients to reach the cells, promoting healing and lowering toxin levels within the body.

The many applications of infrared therapy for horses include:

· Regeneration of collagen and cartilage

· Wound and scar healing

· Better circulation of the blood

· Muscle tension and fatigue

· Lowering of lactic acid levels

· Better flexion range

· Arthritis relief

· Cartilage regrowth

· Preventing chills

· Navicular disease relief

· Skin ailments

· Pain relief

· Faster recovery time after exercise

Chronic inflammation

Collagen makes up about 60 per cent of a horse’s cartilage. While it was once thought that damaged cartilage could not be regenerated, studies have demonstrated that infrared light therapy can accelerate chromosomal activity enough to support the production of collagen and the regrowth of cartilage in horses suffering from arthritis or degenerative bone diseases.

The hoof bell can also be applied to the knees and hocks.

These deeply penetrating light treatments can also be used to target chronic inflammation around the hooves, relieving the swelling and chronic pain caused by navicular disease and hoof abscesses.

Infrapower’s hoof bell has multifunctional applications. It fits perfectly around the hoof, but can be also used on the hock and fetlock. It helps to reduce stiffness, and

acts to improve hoof growth, cracks in the hoof, and the healing of small wounds. It is also a useful rehabilitation tool following an injury.

Injury relief

With no muscles below the knee, all movement in a horse’s lower limb is carried out by tendons attached to muscles higher in the leg. Since a horse’s forelimbs absorb up to 65 per cent of the weight-bearing impact while training, this areais especially prone to soft tissue injuries such as bowed tendons. Infrared therapy in the form of a therapeutic leg wrap can help horses suffering with lower leg injuries to heal faster.

Like the hoof bell, the Infrapower Leg Wrap is also designed to be multifunctional. It fits snuggly around the legs, but can be also used in other areas, the neck and back for example.

Innovative application

The poll cap is an innovative approach to the application of infrared treatment to the poll, and is a valuable aid to help manage poll tension. The infrared lights are positioned over acupuncture points, trigger points and areas that commonly hold tension through the head.

The cap has been found to help improve problems such as stiffness and other issues in the poll area; stress and anxiety; grinding of the teeth; behavioural irregularities; head tension and tilting; and sinus ailments.

Featured Image: The Broholm Infrapower Leg Pad is designed for use on the lower limbs but can also be used on the neck, back and hindquarters.