Vibrational Healing with Light Emiting Diodes

Light Emitting Diodes Aid in Wound Healing

Keywords: Cancer in Children, Diabetes, Wound Healing, radiation burn, light emitting diodes, diabetic ulcer
Powerful light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have been shown to help heal wounds in laboratory animals and are now being tested on humans at the Medical College of Wisconsin. The LEDs were developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to spur plant life in space.

Harry T. Whelan, MD, Professor of Neurology at the Medical College and Director of the Hyperbaric Medicine Unit at Froedtert Hospital, found that diabetic skin ulcers and other wounds in mice healed much faster when exposed to the special LEDs in the lab. Laboratory research has shown that the LEDs also grow human muscle and skin cells up to five times faster than normal. The study is conducted at the College's MACC (Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer) Fund Research Center.

"For most wounds, we do not need to interfere with nature's healing," Dr. Whelan said. "But this technology may be the answer for problem wounds that are slow to heal."

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a multi-year investigation of the LEDs as an experimental treatment by a team led by Dr. Whelan. The study, funded by NASA, will specifically examine the technology's effects on diabetic skin ulcers, serious burns and flesh wounds caused by radiation and chemotherapy treatments. The studies on patients are being done at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin and Froedtert Hospital.

LEDs are being studied in comparison to and in conjunction with hyperbaric oxygen therapy, a standard treatment in which the patient is placed in a pressurized oxygen chamber to stimulate new cell growth.

In the first 18-month phase of the project, 100 individuals will be studied at Froedtert and Children's Hospitals. The participants have wounds such as a burn, crush injury, radiation burn, skin graft, diabetic ulcer, or any other wound with poor blood or oxygen supply, that is determined by their physician to be healing slowly or not at all.

In a separate protocol, Dr. Whelan is studying and using the LEDs to promote healing of acute mouth ulcers resulting from chemotherapy and radiation used to treat cancer in children. The treatment is quick and painless.

"Some children who probably would have to be fed intravenously because of the severe sores in their mouths have been able to eat solid food," said David Margolis, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and an oncologist at Children's Hospital, whose pediatric cancer patients are participating in the study. "Preventing this oral mucositis improves the patient's ability to eat and drink and also reduces the risk of infections in patients with compromised immune systems."

"So far, what we see in patients and what we see in laboratory cell cultures, all point to one conclusion," said Dr. Whelan. "The near-infrared light emitted by these LEDs seems to be perfect for increasing energy inside cells. This means whether you're on Earth in a hospital, working on a submarine under the sea, or on your way to Mars inside a spaceship, the LEDs boost energy to the cells and accelerate healing."

In another continuing study, Dr. Whelan has also used LED therapy to treat more than 20 individuals with brain cancer tumors without the side effects of traditional or laser surgery. This study, done in collaboration with Glenn A. Meyer, MD, Professor of Neurosurgery, uses LEDs to activate light-sensitive, cancer-killing drugs that can kill tumor cells beyond the surgeon's reach without harming healthy cells.

LED technology was developed to enhance the growth of plant tissue in space by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and Quantum Devices Inc. of Barneveld, Wisconsin. LEDs have a similar physiological effect on human cells as they do on plant cells. In space, the lack of gravity keeps cells from growing naturally, resulting in slow-growing plant life and loss of bone mass, atrophied muscles, and wounds that do not heal properly in astronauts. LEDs stimulate cytochromes in the body that increase the energy metabolism of cells. Cytochromes are part of the "electron transport chain" that converts sugar into instant energy required by the body to perform all of its actions, such as raising a finger or healing a wound.

Laser light has been shown to have similar effects on growing cells, but lasers are heavy, inefficient, more costly and do not offer the ideal wavelength of light for cell growth. The specially designed near-infrared LED has a longer wavelength than laser light that penetrates deeper -- to a depth of 23 centimeters, or more that nine inches -- without damaging the skin. Though three times brighter that the sun, the LED is very safe and easy to use, as well as portable. For wound healing, the LED is housed in a 3.5" by 4.5" flat array from which it emits a red light that is cool to the touch. An array of LEDs includes three wavelengths to affect various cell types.

An LED array is currently on board a US Navy nuclear submarine for treatment of potential training injuries. Dr. Whelan is a commander in the Navy and a diving medical officer for the Naval Special Warfare Command, which includes the SEAL (Sea, Air and Land) teams. Dr. Whelan has been inducted into the NASA Space Technology Hall of Fame for his research into the use of LEDs for wound healing and the treatment of brain tumors.

28 November 2000
Last updated 28 November 2000

------------------------About Harry Whelan

Harry T. Whelan, MD
Professor of Neurology
Director of Hyperbaric Medicine

Department of Neurology
Dr. Whelan is Professor of Neurology, Pediatrics, and Hyperbaric Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He has over ten years of experience conducting research on the use of new light technologies in the treatment of cancer and wounds. He is also Principal Investigator on the only FDA approved treatment protocol for Photodynamic Therapy of childhood cancer. His use of NASA space-based LED technology to activate cancer killing drugs has now extended further into direct effects of near infrared LED light on human growth stimulation. Potential benefits to space station astronauts include preventing muscle atrophy and healing wounds.

Dr. Whelan is also a reserve Diving Medical Officer for Naval Special Warfare Group Two, holding the rank of Commander, with clinical and research experience in Hyperbaric Medicine, wound care and combat casualty care. He has over 70 publications, including cancer, laser, LED and diving/hyperbaric studies.

Patient Care Emphasis
Air and Gas Embolism
Brain Tumors
Burn Injury
Carbon Monoxide Poisioning and Smoke Inhalation
Decompression Sickness
Developmental Disorders of Central Nervous System
Light Emitting DiodeTherapy
Pediatric Neurology
Radiation Tissue Damage
Wound Healing

Education and Training
Doctor of Medicine (MD), University of Wisconsin Medical School, 1979
Residency, University of Florida

Board Certification
Neurology with Special Qualifications in Child Neurology

Clinical Practice
Patient age: All
Joined MCW faculty in 1988

Appointment Telephone Number
Children's Neurology Clinic (414) 607-5280 Hyperbaric Medicine Unit (414) 805-5060

Clinical Practice Locations
Hyperbaric Medicine Unit
Froedtert & Medical College Clinics
9200 West Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53226
(414) 805-5060
Neurology Clinic
Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
9000 West Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53226
(414) 266-3580

---------------------------------About David A. Margolis, MD

David A. Margolis, MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology
Department of Pediatrics

Patient Care Emphasis
Aplastic Anemia
Bone Marrow Transplantation

Education and Training
Doctor of Medicine (MD), University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1989
Residency, Department of Pediatrics, Medical College of Wisconsin, 1989-1992
Fellowship, Department of Pediatrics, Medical College of Wisconsin Affiliated Hospitals, 1992-1995

Board Certification
Hematology - Oncology

Clinical Practice
Patient age: 0-18
Speaks Spanish
Joined MCW faculty in 1995

Appointment Telephone Number

Clinical Practice Locations
Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
9000 West Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53226
(414) 266-2932

Copyright © 2001, Medical College of Wisconsin

-------------------------------------About Glenn A. Meyer, MD,

Glenn A. Meyer, MD
Professor of Neurosurgery

Department of Neurosurgery
Dr. Meyer specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of brain tumors. He is a recognized expert in the application of microsurgical techniques for the treatment of brain and spinal cord tumors as well as other spinal lesions causing neurological deficit. He collaborates with colleagues in Neuro-ophthalmology and Neuro-otology in treatment of neoplastic and dysfunction syndromes of the cranial nerves. These include pituitary adenomas, trigeminal neuralgia, hemifacial spasm, acoustic neuromas and Meniere's disease. This work entails application of endoscopic and neuronavigational techniques in treating these disorders. Clinical research is continuing in applying photosynamic therapy for treatment of recurrent neoplasms and also brain stem electrode application to restore some hearing in totally deaf patients.

Dr. Meyer was a founding member of the Association for Academic Surgery, the Society for Neuroscience, Society for Neuro-Oncology and the International Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery. He has served as President of the Milwaukee Academy of Medicine, Milwaukee Neuropsychiatric Society, Wisconsin Neurosurgical Society, Central Neurosurgical Society and the Faculty at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Patient Care Emphasis
Brain Tumors
Gamma Knife Stereotactic Radiosurgery
Microvascular and Tumor Surgery
Neuroendocrine Surgery (Pituitary)
Spinal Tumors
Spine Surgery
Trigeminal Neuralgia

Education and Training
Doctor of Medicine (MD), University of Wisconsin Medical School, 1960
Residency, University of Wisconsin, 1966

Board Certification
Neurological Surgery

Clinical Practice
Patient age: 12+
Joined MCW faculty in 1972

Appointment Telephone Number
(414) 805-5404

Clinical Practice Locations
Neurosurgery Clinic
Froedtert & Medical College Clinics
9200 West Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53226
(414) 805-5520

Copyright © 2001, Medical College of Wisconsin
18 February 2001