Editors Blog – Adhesive patch makes light work of muscle pain

Placing a patch on a sports injury can bring more than light relief, reports Caroline Hayes


Figure 1: The LED Light Patch uses photobiomodulation to accelerate recovery

Wearable therapeutics is a genre of wearable technology that is still subject to experimentation and research. It covers devices worn on the head to warn of an impending migraine for example, At this year’s Wearable Technologies Conference in San Francisco, Nevada-based CareWear Light Patches, designed for pain relief, reduce joint stiffness and to accelerate the muscle recovery following exercise.

Studies presented at health symposia in 2018 and 2019 by professors at the Athletic Training/Sports Medicine at Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, USA and Dr. Castel, CEO and CTO of CareWear, concluded that photobiomodulation (PBM), or light therapy, is more effective than cryotherapy in post-exercise muscle recovery. Studies supported PBM’s effectiveness in reducing muscle damage and perceived muscle soreness, as well as for accelerated recovery of physical performance.

A muscle injury is usually treated with massage (ice or manual) or therapeutic ultrasound and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce contusions and the lack of mobility that can result.

Researchers found that PBM, using a pulsed blue (450nm) light and a red 630nm light applied to the injury via a printed, flexible LED light patch can reduce the pain and accelerate healing, with reduced bruising, and a reduced muscle hardness.

Results were measured using an MSK imaging ultrasound scan of the muscle site, with participants asked to grade the level of pain they experienced after performing exercise using an injured muscle. For five days, participants in the study received either a 30 minute PBM treating using the light patch at a peak irradiance of 9mW/cm2, or a placebo. Tests with an MSK imaging ultrasound after five days showed that those receiving the light treatment experienced a rapid decrease in pain, accelerated healing and reduced muscle hardness.

The light patches can therefore be applied as an immediate treatment in sports and industrial injuries.


Editors Blog – Adhesive patch makes light work of muscle pain, Weartech Design

Figure 2: Research shows that PBM can treat muscle pain. Photo: CareWear

The CareWear light patch produces blue and red light to reduce pain and improve tissue recovery by increasing local blood circulation and elevating tissue temperature. It emit wavelengths of light that warm tissues to relax muscles, stimulate increased nitric oxide production to improve circulation, decrease inflammation to relieve pain, and stimulate energy production to improve cellular function for healing and repair, says CareWear.

The reuseable patch has 3,500 printed LEDs integrated into hydrogel to deliver the light therapy directly to the affected muscle area. The patch can be used up to 20 times, advises the company.

A wireless controller is both a power source and controls the dosage, delivering the correct light therapy to the patch.

Although each patch can be used up to 20 times, the size, nature and location of muscle injury will vary, so CareWear provides replacement light patches in a selection of body-contouring shapes and sizes.  Trainers and athletes can chose a kit with one controller, charger, and carrying case or one with four controllers, a four-port charger and carrying case.


Editors Blog – Adhesive patch makes light work of muscle pain, Weartech Design

Figure 3: There are single or team kits available with one or four controllers.

The patches are FDA-registered and include patented technology to ensure 100 per cent calibration, accurate dosage and regulatory compliance. The light patches are safe for ocular exposure according to IEC 62471-2/TR:2009.

CareWear was a winner of the SPIE (The International Society for Optical Engineering) 2018 Startup Challenge Award at Photonics West in San Francisco and was a finalist in the 2019 IoT/WTInnovation World Cup.


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