Can light alleviate pain?

A pain centre in Munich is using LED and fluorescent light to enhance its treatment of people suffering chronic pain.

The Zentrum für Interdisziplinäre Schmerztherapie (Centre for Interdisciplinary Pain Therapy, or ZIS) at the Munich-based Klinikum rechts der Isar is the first pain centre worldwide to include biologically effective light in its therapy programme.

Doctors from three different fields treat chronic pain sufferers at ZIS. The new light therapy is based on the idea that high illuminances and lighting that imitates the effect of daylight are beneficial to psychological wellbeing.

‘We hope that by giving patients a concentrated dose of light, they will sleep better at night, be more alert and focused by day and will have a more positive relationship with their bodies overall,’ said Professor Thomas Tölle, director of the ZIS.

The lighting system, designed by Osram, operates with two standard Novaluna luminaires from Siteco. These produce warm white light and cold white light respectively, controlled via a Dali light management system. Illuminances of up to 4,000 lx can be achieved – eight times brighter than ordinary lighting and close to natural daylight.

ZIS is currently evaluating the effect of the new light therapy on patients. Osram says that the affordability and cost-effectiveness of the system makes it suited to a range of healthcare environments.

Pic: Craig Sunter