Spread of the Optical Power Emission of Three Units Each of Two Different Laser Therapy Devices Used in Sports Medicine, Which Cannot Be Assessed by the Users, Shown by Means of High-Fidelity Laser Measurement Technology

Laser therapy devices (LTDs) operating with near-infrared laser light are increasingly being used in sports medicine. For several reasons, users cannot evaluate whether or not such devices emit laser beams according to the specifications provided by the manufacturer and the settings of the device. In this study, the laser beams from two different LTDs that can be used in sports medicine were thoroughly characterized by measuring the emitted power, pulse shapes and lengths and spatial intensity distributions using professional, high-fidelity laser measurement technology. This was repeated for three units of each LDT independently to distinguish problems of individual units from potential intrinsic instrument design errors. The laser beams from the units of one LTD agreed with the settings of the device, with the measured average power for these units being within 3.3% of the set power. In contrast, the laser beams from the units of the other LTD showed large deviations between the settings and the actual emitted light. This device came with three laser diodes that could be used independently and simultaneously. The average power differed greatly between the units as well as between the laser diodes within each unit. Some laser diodes emitted essentially no light, which could lead to a lack of treatment for patients. Other laser diodes emitted much more power than set at the device (up to 230%), which could result in skin irritations or burning of patients. These findings indicate a need for better standardization and consistency of therapeutic laser light sources.


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