Transcranial Near Infrared Light Stimulations Improve Cognition in Patients with Dementia


Dementia is a complex syndrome with various presentations depending on the underlying pathologies. Low emission of transcranial near-infrared (tNIR) light can reach human brain parenchyma and be beneficial to a number of neurological and neurodegenerative disorders. We hereby examined the safety and potential therapeutic benefits of tNIR light stimulations in the treatment of dementia. Patients of mild to moderate dementia were randomized into active and sham treatment groups at 2:1 ratio. Active treatment consisted of low power tNIR light stimulations with an active photobiomodulation for 6 min twice daily during 8 consequent weeks. Sham treatment consisted of same treatment routine with a sham device. Neuropsychological battery was obtained before and after treatment. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to analyze outcomes. Sixty subjects were enrolled. Fifty-seven subjects completed the study and had not reported health or adverse side effects during or after the treatment. Three subjects dropped out from trial for health issues unrelated to use of tNIR light treatment. Treatment with active device resulted in improvements of cognitive functions and changes were: an average increase of MMSE by 4.8 points; Logical Memory Tests I and II by ~3.0 points; Trail Making Tests A and B by ~24%; Boston Naming Test by ~9%; improvement of both Auditory Verbal Learning Tests in all subtest categories and overall time of performance. Many patients reported improved sleep after ~7 days of treatment. Caregivers noted that patients had less anxiety, improved mood, energy, and positive daily routine after ~14-21 days of treatment. The tNIR light treatments demonstrated safety and positive cognitive improvements in patients with dementia. Developed treatment protocol can be conveniently used at home. This study suggests that additional dementia treatment trials are warranted with a focus on mitigating caregivers’ burden with tNIR light treatment of dementia patients.

Download the PDF»