Getting Started with Lasers

On the fence about getting a therapeutic laser? Our expert, Janice Huntingford, DVM, DACVSMR, answers five pressing questions that may help you with your decision.

5 Questions for Janice Huntingford, DVM, DACVSMR

How do I decide whether or not to get a laser for my practice?

I think any veterinary practice can benefit from offering laser therapy as one tool for treating painful patients. This noninvasive therapy is appreciated by the clients, who enjoy seeing their pet being treated with a therapy that works quickly and is the latest technology. Because the pet generally needs multiple sessions, the client becomes more bonded to the practice and feels more involved in their pet’s care. In addition, the therapy itself is often delivered by veterinary nurses, freeing up the doctor for other tasks. Laser can be a profit center for most practices and one that is well appreciated by the clients.

What conditions benefit from laser therapy?

In my practice we use laser therapy primarily for pets in pain who have osteoarthritis, tendon/ligament injuries, traumatic injuries, disc disease, otitis, and surgical incisions. It is part of our multimodal treatment of pain. The main clinical benefits I see are decreased pain and inflammation and improved healing.

How much training do I need to start using the laser?

Training should be provided by any company selling a quality product. In-house or virtual training is essential and necessary for the veterinary staff to feel comfortable delivering the therapy. Basic understanding of laser usage, safety protocols, and which conditions could benefit from laser therapy should be outlined in any training course. Ongoing and advanced training that includes the latest scientific evidence should be provided by the laser company.

How much marketing do I need to do to be profitable?

Additional external marketing on your website and social media often brings in new clients who are interested in treating pets experiencing pain; however, internal marketing to existing clients will reap benefits as well. If pain scoring and the discussion of painful conditions is part of every examination, the practitioner may identify many patients who could benefit from laser therapy.

Most laser companies can help you design a simple marketing program that would serve the needs of your practice. Your clients whose pets are being treated with laser therapy are often your best source of marketing—they love posting pictures of their pet being treated with the laser while wearing “rock star” goggles!

What kind of clinical results can I expect from using lasers?

For acute conditions, pain relief is often immediate but may require daily treatment if there is significant pain. Chronic conditions may benefit from cumulation of therapy and these conditions are often treated 2 to 3 times weekly. When combining laser with physical therapy, the result are more effective. Most pets will feel better right after therapy, and owners often notice reduced pain and improved mobility.

 

Jan Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, DACVSMR, is a 1984 graduate of the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, in Guelph, Ontario. She is certified in chiropractic, acupuncture, rehabilitation, and pain management. In 2015, she became a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. She has coauthored several textbook chapters, has published several peer-reviewed manuscripts, and continues to speak nationally and internationally on pain management and rehabilitation.

 

Photo credits: ©AAHA/Robin Taylor

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