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Trials. 2018 Apr 24;19(1):249. doi: 10.1186/s13063-018-2632-5.

Effects of transcranial LED therapy on the cognitive rehabilitation for diffuse axonal injury due to severe acute traumatic brain injury: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial.

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Department of Neurological Surgery, University of São Paulo School of Medicine, 255 Dr. Enéas de Carvalho Aguiar Av., São Paulo, SP, 05403-010, Brazil.
Division of Neuropsychology, University of São Paulo General Hospital, São Paulo, Brazil.
Center for Innovation, Technology and Education (CITÉ) SJ dos Campos, São Paulo, 12245-650, Brazil.
University of São Paulo School of Nursing, São Paulo, Brazil.
Department of Neurological Surgery, University of São Paulo School of Medicine, 255 Dr. Enéas de Carvalho Aguiar Av., São Paulo, SP, 05403-010, Brazil.



Photobiomodulation describes the use of red or near-infrared light to stimulate or regenerate tissue. It was discovered that near-infrared wavelengths (800-900 nm) and red (600 nm) light-emitting diodes (LED) are able to penetrate through the scalp and skull and have the potential to improve the subnormal cellular activity of compromised brain tissue. Different experimental and clinical studies were performed to test LED therapy for traumatic brain injury (TBI) with promising results. One of the proposals of this present study is to develop different approaches to maximize the positive effects of this therapy and improve the quality of life of TBI patients.


This is a double-blinded, randomized, controlled trial of patients with diffuse axonal injury (DAI) due to a severe TBI in an acute stage (less than 8 h). Thirty two patients will be randomized to active coil helmet and inactive coil (sham) groups in a 1:1 ratio. The protocol includes 18 sessions of transcranial LED stimulation (627 nm, 70 mW/cm2, 10 J/cm2) at four points of the frontal and parietal regions for 30 s each, totaling 120 s, three times per week for 6 weeks, lasting 30 min. Patients will be evaluated with the Glasgow Outcome Scale Extended (GOSE) before stimulation and 1, 3, and 6 months after the first stimulation. The study hypotheses are as follows: (1) transcranial LED therapy (TCLT) will improve the cognitive function of DAI patients and (2) TCLT will promote beneficial hemodynamic changes in cerebral circulation.


This study evaluates early and delayed effects of TCLT on the cognitive rehabilitation for DAI following severe acute TBI. There is a paucity of studies regarding the use of this therapy for cognitive improvement in TBI. There are some experimental studies and case series presenting interesting results for TBI cognitive improvement but no clinical trials.

TRIAL REGISTRATION:, NCT03281759 . Registered on 13 September 2017.


Brain diseases; Brain injuries; Central nervous system diseases; Craniocerebral trauma; Diffuse axonal injury; Low-level light therapy; Nervous system diseases; Neurologic manifestations; Quality of life; Trauma

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