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Sports Performance and Brain Photobiomodulation

Optimise your athletic performance with PBM

Around 7 years ago I started my research into red light therapy, infrared light therapy and photobiomodulation in my desperate attempt to search for anything that could help my mum who had suffered major brain damage after an aneurysm and subsequently a stroke.

In my meanderings through Pub med, scientific magazines, youtube and co I came across the work of Dr Lew Lim a luminary in this field.

I then had the privilege of interviewing Dr Lew about Photobiomodulation and it's many applications and the current state of research. You can listen to that interview here: Dr Lew Lim

After learning as much as I could, I included two devices from Vielight.com in my mum's rehabilitation with great success. You can read about that journey in my latest book "Relentless - How a mother and daughter defied the odds"

I have continued to follow this field and the emerging body of evidence that supports brain photobiomodulation and in this article I wanted to discuss it use for athletes of all levels wanting to enhance their performance.

(tPBM) as a non-invasive modality that offers a multitude of benefits to the brain. Providing support and stimulation to the brain, tPBM does it via numerous pathways.

These benefits are correlated with better overall neurophysiological performance relevant to high performing athletes.

Vielight devices are uniquely positioned to deliver these benefits to athletes in a simple and convenient form.

The benefits may include:

1. Better overall brain performance and optimisation

a. Neural inflammation reduction.

b. Support for synaptogenesis.

c. Promotion of neurogenesis.

d. Stimulation mitochondrial respiratory chain.

e. Stimulation of synaptic plasticity and neuroplasticity.

2. Performance improvement.

a. Better reaction time.

b. Mental fatigue mitigation.

c. Better mental clarity

i. Faster decision-making.

d. Better focus.

3. Better quality of sleep and sleep management.

4. Helpful for post-concussion symptoms management (collision and contact sports).

5. Helpful for TBI symptoms management (collision and contact sports).

Why is the brain important for top athletic performance?

To attain top performance in sports, we should consider the brain’s role. The brain determines the motor control and critical psychological factors of the athlete ( Cheron et al., 2016 ).

Factors like intrinsic motivation (Pedersen, 2002), selective attention ( Arjona et al., 2014 ;Abdollahipour et al., 2015), goal setting (West and Thorn, 2001), working memory ( Dipoppa and Sports Performance and Brain Photobiomodulation | Vielight Inc | G. Lemud | Dec 2022 Gutkin, 2013 ), decision making ( Renfree et al., 2014 ), positive self-concept (Badami et al., 2012), and self-control (Ali et al., 2012; Chiviacowsky et al., 2012) are relevant to athletic performance.

The higher the level of the athlete, the higher the performance threshold, the higher the need for brain optimisation.

Effects of tPBM on Neural Mitochondria

Research also supports tPBM’s positive effects on mitochondrial respiratory chain. The photonic energy emitted during tPBM is absorbed by cytochrome c oxidase (CCO). This process causes nitric oxide photodissociation, leading to transformation of photonic energy into chemical via adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production. (de Freitas & Hamblin, 2016).

There is also an increase in production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by the mitochondria.

ROS play an important role in facilitating communication among the cells, as well as support of immune response. The release of Ca2+, as versatile second messengers, also takes place. Nitric oxide (NO) levels increase as well. In turn, these processes lead to the activation of transcription factors and signaling mediators (ie. NF-κB), producing long-lasting cellular effects (de Freitas & Hamblin, 2016).

Effects of tPBM on Synaptic Plasticity and Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity is an important ability of the brain to change or be changed via an external

stimulus to accommodate its reorganization and structure. Neuroplasticity plays important role in the brains ability to acquire new information and to learn new functions.

Synaptic plasticity refers to the change in synapses, connections between the neurons, that allows them to communicate.

Better synaptic plasticity usually means faster and better communication between the neurons. Thus, it plays an important role in information processing speed in neuronal networks of the brain. A recent study demonstrated that transcranial photobiomodulation has beneficial stimulating effect on synaptic plasticity ( Buendia et al.,2022).

Effects of Neural or Neuronal Oscillations on Performance

Studies demonstrated the effects that brain oscillations have on athletes and their performance

( Cheron et al., 2016 , Brain Oscillations in Sport: Toward EEG Biomarkers of Performance). The

researchers note:

“In practical terms, neuronal oscillations can be readily recorded in a non-invasive way in human allowing the possibility to follow the dynamics of brain working during activity.

The optimised state of performance reached by sport elites offers a privileged domain for studying the different neuronal oscillations linked to sensorimotor and cognitive control getting to final success or failure.”

Sports Performance and Brain Photobiomodulation | Vielight Inc | G. Lemud | Dec 2022

“Neuronal oscillators are implicated in a plethora of crucial functions extending from movement control and cognition to sleep. In accordance with the concept of unified brain rhythms, the continuity hypothesis.”

Other studies show that pulsed light tPBM (PtPBM) can up regulate or down regulate brain oscillations. The effect can happen on the entire frequency spectrum of neural oscillations ,even if stimulation employs a single frequency.

These findings allow us to postulate that PtPBM can be beneficial in helping athletes to improve their performance further. This improvement can be attained via modulation of relevant brain oscillations involved in specific performance-related tasks.

Holistic Approach to PtPBM for Athletic Performance Improvement

Numerous individually conducted studies demonstrated various pathways by which tPBM can deliver benefits to athlete’s brain and help to improve athletic performance.

To achieve their best performance, top performing athletes require best-in-class training, including performance-improving technology. PtPBM is a promising neurostimulation technology that can be highly effective in supporting and elevating athletic performance.

Vielight’s pulsed transcranial photobiomodulation devices offer a good overall fit between the technology and the athlete’s needs. Specifically, the Vielight Neuro devices cover the hubs of the default mode network (DMN) of the brain, a very important network linked to numerous functions of the Brain.

If you want to find out more or get one of Vielights Devices I have managed to organise a discount code for you. Get 10% off when you use the code "tamati" at checkout.

Go to Vielight.com