Focusing on Laser Therapy: Review of the 2011 NAALT Conference
By Jerome True, DC, FIACN
The North American Association for Laser Therapy (NAALT) held its 11th annual conference in Milwaukee, Wisc., Sept. 22-24, 2011. Sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, this year's event featured poster presentations by three chiropractic physicians: Dr. Joseph DiDuro from Casa Grande, Ariz.; Dr. Larry Morries from Engelwood, Colo.; and Dr. Alexandra Schnee from Dallas.
NAALT is a multidisciplinary organization comprised of researchers, medical doctors, acupuncturists, dentists, chiropractic physicians, physical therapists and veterinarians. Although NAALT primarily represents North American members, the annual convention attracts the top-level researchers in laser therapy from all over the world.
This year, in a collaboration with the World Association for Laser Therapy (WALT), the scientific program presented cutting-edge, fast-paced and wide-ranging current research in laser and phototherapy. As there were over 30 speakers for the two days, brief (20-minute) sessions with ample time for discussion were allotted to each thematic session. Chukuka Enwemeka, PhD, professor and dean of the College of Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, gave the keynote address on Friday morning. If you have read any scientific journals on laser therapy, you will recognize Dr. Enwemeka's name, as his research is often cited. He is currently the co-editor-in-chief of Photomedicine and Laser Surgery, the official journal of NAALT. Dr. Enwemeka is very passionate about his research and his enthusiasm for phototherapy is captivating.
Roberta Chow, MD, PhD, presented the keynote address for the Saturday session. Dr. Chow is a general practitioner who uses lasers for the treatment of chronic pain. She is highly respected for her ground-breaking research on laser therapy and neck pain, published in journals such as The Lancet and Pain.
Many other well-regarded speakers presented their current research abstracts throughout both days of the conference. These researchers and clinicians included Brian Bennett, Terry Baker, Gerry Ross, Nicolette Houreld, Harry Whelan, Michael Hamblin, Shimon Rochkind, Margaret Naeser, Rene-Jean Bensadoun, Heidi Abrahamse, Liisa Laasko, Janis Eells, Patricia Trimmer, Leonardo Longo, Jan Bjordal, Rodrigo Lopes-Martins, Narda Robinson, Tomas Hode, James Carroll, Mark Dincher, Michael Weber, and Graham Merry.
NAALT established an awards fund this year in memory of Ron Ignatius, founder of Quantum Devices, Inc., and presented awards in three categories. The first is the Chukuka Enwemeka Excellence in Photomedicine Award. This award is for mid-senior scientists who have made a significant contribution to photomedicine; this year's recipient was Tiina Karu, PhD, a pioneer in low level laser, who has authored five textbooks and 90 scientific articles. Her research identified one of the first biomolecules, cytochrome C oxidase, to be activated by low-level laser, which was associated with a therapeutic effect.
The two other awards were created to recognize young investigators for their work in the basic science of photomedicine and the clinical science of photomedicine: the Tiina Karu Basic Science Photomedicine Award and the Mary Dyson Clinical Photomedicine Award, respectively. Award recipients this year were Lilach Gavish, PhD, for the basic science award and Ernesto Cesar Leal Junior, PhD, for the clinical science award.
NAALT also elected a new board of directors during the 2011 conference, with Brian Bennett, MD, elected president. Other board members as elected include Gerry Ross, DDS, vice president; Richard Godine, DVM, treasurer; and Robin Schumacher, secretary. Re-elected as board directors were Praveen Arany, PhD, and Terry Baker, MD. [Editor's note: Dr. True was also re-elected as a director.]
NAALT encourages all laser and phototherapy researchers to submit research for presentation at future conferences. Scientific investigators from the chiropractic colleges would find the NAALT convention to be the ideal presentation event for new laser research. In 2012, NAALT will partner with other laser specialist forums like the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS) and the Academy of Laser Dentistry (ALD) to hold collaborative scientific sessions at their annual conferences. Additional information can be found on the NAALT Web site: www.naalt.org.
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