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Michael Owen (Liverpool United)

gets the THOR laser treatment


By Philip Reid

KNOWN AS quite a talented operator in his Gaelic football youth, and with a father, Paddy, who starred in All-Ireland finals with his native Cork, Padraig Harrington might have felt that injuries sustained on the pitch were a thing of the past

Yesterday morning however, just hours before his final tee-time in the Smurfit European Open, Harrington woke with a tendon injury in his wrist. "I played about 45 minutes of football a couple of nights ago. I don't remember getting injured, but that's the only time it could have happened," said the Dubliner.

And, so, an SOS was issued to Eamonn O' Muircheartaigh, son of broadcaster Michael, and physio to the Kildare football team. The medic responded to Harrington's plight. He applied friction, used laser treatment and strapped up the wrist. "Eamonn did a fine job" remarked Harrington who went on to shoot 68, his best round of the tornament for a seven-under-par.


NEWS FLASH : NASA treats wounds with light therapy

Article from New Scientist magazine

Charles Seife, Washington DC

SPACE HEALING

EVEN A SMALL NICK won't heal properly in zero gravity--a problem that has made astronauts' jobs just that much tougher. Now NASA is learning how to heal wounds with light.

Astronauts have to be very careful when they're in space, explains Harry Whelan, a neurologist at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. "Minor injuries typically don't heal until they land," he says. The reason for this is not well understood, but a cell's mitochondria--its energy sources--don't function as efficiently in zero gravity, and this leads to a variety of health risks.

One way to boost the efficiency of mitochondria is to irradiate them with red and infrared light, which stimulates them to produce key chemicals called cytochromes. The question is how to generate the light.

"There's been a lot of work done with lasers, but they're too expensive and too problematic," says Ronald Ignatius, the president of Wisconsin-based engineering firm Quantum Devices.

So with NASA's help, Quantum Devices has developed highly efficient LEDs that produce the required wavelengths, also letting designers create devices large enough to bathe the whole area with light. When Whelan illuminated cultured cells with light from the LEDs, he discovered that they grew significantly better. "We have shown that fibroblasts and muscle cells grow five times faster," he says. Clinical trials are also under way.

Combined with treatment in high- pressure oxygen chambers and perhaps various growth-inducing chemicals, Whelan hopes that the LED-based therapy will provide a way for astronauts to heal their wounds, and even prevent muscle and bone loss during extended spaceflight.

From New Scientist, 25 September 1999

This article can be viewed at this web site

http://www.newscientist.com/ns/19990925/newsstory11.html


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