Research Reports - Light therapy for fatigue following traumatic brain injury

Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2013 Nov 8

Sinclair KL, Ponsford JL, Taffe J, Lockley SW, Rajaratnam SM

BACKGROUND: . Fatigue is a common, persistent complaint following traumatic brain
injury (TBI). Effective treatment is not well established.
OBJECTIVE: . The current study aimed to investigate the efficacy of 4 weeks of
light therapy for fatigue in patients with TBI.
METHODS: . We undertook a randomized, placebo-controlled study of 4-week, 45
min/morning, home-based treatment with short wavelength (blue) light therapy
(λmax = 465 nm, 84.8 µW/cm(2), 39.5 lux, 1.74 × 10(14) photons/cm(2)/s) compared
with yellow light therapy (λmax = 574 nm, 18.5 µW/cm(2), 68 lux, 1.21 × 10(12)
photons/cm(2)/s) containing less photons in the short wavelength range and a no
treatment control group (n = 10 per group) in patients with TBI who self-reported
fatigue and/or sleep disturbance. Assessments of fatigue and secondary outcomes
(self-reported daytime sleepiness, depression, sleep quality, and sustained
attention) were conducted over 10 weeks at baseline (week -2), midway through and
at the end of light therapy (weeks 2 and 4), and 4 weeks following cessation of
light therapy (week 8).
RESULTS: . After controlling age, gender, and baseline depression, treatment with
high-intensity blue light therapy resulted in reduced fatigue and daytime
sleepiness during the treatment phase, with evidence of a trend toward baseline
levels 4 weeks after treatment cessation. These changes were not observed with
lower-intensity yellow light therapy or no treatment control conditions. There
was also no significant treatment effect observed for self-reported depression or
psychomotor vigilance performance.
CONCLUSIONS: . Blue light therapy appears to be effective in alleviating fatigue
and daytime sleepiness following TBI and may offer a noninvasive, safe, and
nonpharmacological alternative to current treatments.

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