An impressive 92% of DCs who use laser care would recommend other DCs add therapeutic lasers to their practice, a Dynamic Chiropractic email survey has found. Not surprisingly perhaps, 75% of those who would recommend it to peers said it is because these devices have proven to be a very effective part of their treatment strategy, while 45% said their patients enjoy laser care and have referred others as a result of the laser care.
As Dr. Todd Austin of Illinois remarked: "Our clinic's low level lasers improve ROM, decrease inflammation and edema, help to increase oxygenation of the damages target issues, speed up the healing process and (even more importantly in my opinion) increase the damaged tissue's ability to handle additional stress. The bottom line is: if there are damaged cells or tissues present, LLLT (low-level laser therapy) will usually be of benefit."
Equally impressive are the business results our respondents reported: Forty percent said they have seen an increase in practice income as a result of incorporating laser therapy into their treatments. Another 26% reported that the reputation of their practice has improved.
Who Uses Lasers and How
Approximately a third of DCs utilize laser care on half or more of their patients. When asked about the patient complaints they had the most success addressing with laser care treatment, they responded:
- Extremity Pain - 77%
- Neck & Shoulder Pain - 72%
- Back Pain - 60%
- TMJ Disorders - 41%
- Disc Herniation - 29%
- Disc Herniation with Radiculopathy - 27%
Laser care fits well into the chiropractic philosophy with 94% of DC users totally or somewhat agreeing that they "believe in the philosophy of laser care."
One doctor who took the survey noted: "Overall, I find it a very effective therapy when used alone and works excellently with Chiropractic adjustments." Stephen Fedele, Jr., DC, of California agrees: "It speeds recovery and shows that they can recover without drugs and surgery."
Quality is not an issue as 90% totally or somewhat agreed that they are "confident in the quality of my laser." And while price can always be a challenge, just under 60% agreed (totally or somewhat) that their laser was "very affordable." Dr. Stephen M. Savoie of Florida said laser therapy "is an extremely effective modality that provides pain relief and recovery with less effort on the doctor's part at an affordable price."
Why Not Use Lasers?
So why don't more doctors of chiropractic use lasers in their practice? The answer appears may be a lack of information.
Only 45% of DC users totally agreed that they were ready to use their laser based upon the "information provided with my laser." Many DCs gained additional information before and after they made their purchase from a number of sources (see accompanying graphic).
This same theme is echoed by doctors who don't current own lasers, but are considering making a purchase. Less than half are "very" or "somewhat" confident in their "understanding of lasers and their application in your practice."
When asked what additional information would assist them in making their decision, doctors who considering purchasing a laser device for their practice stated overwhelmingly preferred they wanted in writing or from attending seminars and webinars.
One of the more interesting data points to emerge from this survey was the apparent lack of differentiation between "high level" lasers (Class IV/above 500 milliwatts) and "low level" lasers (Class III/below 500 milliwatts). When asked which type of laser these doctors are considering to purchase, 54% stated "either." This may also suggest that doctors believe that both are equally effective.
Lasers are clearly seen as a valuable clinical tool by those DCs who are currently using them in their practice. They are seen as an effective adjunct to the adjustment, fitting both philosophically and financially. In addition they increase both income and referrals for almost half of the DCs who use them. According to William J. Kneebone, DC, of California "Therapeutic laser provides the most rapid and predictable relief of any modality that I've used in my 32 years of practice.
Those doctors thinking about adding lasers to their care should spend a good amount of time learning about how lasers work and what specific products are available. DCs will want to be confident that they are purchasing the right therapeutic laser for their practice.
Click here for more information about Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher.