Patricia Rosene (better known as Patti), a licensed veterinary technician for nearly 30 years, was employed with a small animal veterinary practice in Newnan when her own animal was injured.
Her horse, Sly, is part of the family, and it was in her efforts to help Sly that Rosene was inspired to branch out, and use her experience in treating small animals to find a way to help the larger ones.
“Sly had a stifle injury,” Rosene explained. “We took Sly to Auburn Veterinary School for treatment. I was told the only thing that could help him was laser therapy.”
The stifle is the joint in the upper hind limb of a horse, the largest joint in the body of the animal. The joint is complex, and is an important part of a horse’s ability to move forward, stand and bear weight. Depending on the severity and cause, a stifle injury can be difficult to treat, and often requires complicated, costly surgery.
“I had been using laser therapy in practice on small animals,” said Rosene.
But the small laser used for animals at the hospital where Rosene worked would not be effective on an animal Sly’s size.
“I looked for a [large animal] laser to rent, or an animal hospital who had one to use,” explained Rosene. “The options were very limited — and expensive.”
After much discussion, Rosene and her husband decided to take a rather large leap — and purchase the type of laser Sly would need.
“We decided to make the purchase with the intention of my treating not only Sly, but to begin my own laser therapy treatment practice,” said Rosene.
The former veterinarian technician received certification from the American Institute of Medical Laser Applications (AIMLA) after several hours of training, and, after successfully treating Sly, began to make herself available to other equestrians, breeders, and even large pet owners.
In less than a year, Equine Laser Therapy, Inc., led by Rosene, had grown exponentially — and all by word of mouth.
“I never thought it would take off like it did,” Rosene said.
The former veterinarian technician has become one of the only traveling large animal laser therapists in the state.
“I generally travel within a 40-mile radius of my home in Newnan,” Rosene explained. “It is difficult and costly to bring a horse to a veterinarian several times for treatment — and the travel can often cause stress and even further damage to the injury. So, instead, I go to them.”
Laser treatment for animals have been in practice for years, but the technology has evolved greatly.
According to Rosene, the magic in laser treatment is that the laser does more than simply heal an injury.
“Laser therapy can reduce any inflammation or swelling caused by wounds, joint issues, arthritis — so many things,” Rosene said. “The laser penetrates through layers of skin and into muscle tissue. It excites the cells of skin, muscle and even bone, and stimulates cell growth which allows the wound or other condition to heal faster — even in cases where an issue may have been thought to be irreversible.”
According to Rosene, laser therapy also stimulates the release of dopamine and endorphins, which can relieve pain and bring calm to the animal almost immediately.
The scientific word for laser therapy is known as photobiomodulation, the process by which low-level laser light or light-emitting diodes stimulate cells and cell function.
When a cell in the body is damaged, it may reduce production of a chemical know as ATP, which allows the cell to function. When cells are exposed to the red light of a laser, or near-infrared radiation, ATP is increased, bringing an otherwise non-functioning cell back to life.
“The process, which may require several 15-minute sessions, is easy and comfortable for the animal,” Rosene explained. “The stronger laser needed for larger animals emits a bit of warmth, but it seems to be completely comfortable and even calming.”
Laser therapy has been known to replace prescription drugs and even surgery in many animals.
Therapy can also be used as a preventative measure.
“A single treatment on a horse can loosen the joints and muscles of the animal for a show,” said Rosene. “This can keep the horse from injuring himself, and can prevent strain and post-activity aches and pains.”
Rosene noted that the animal is generally 100 percent awake during treatment and needs only to wear a special pair of protective goggles (with the exception of horses, whose eyes are protected by other measures.) The laser therapist also explained that no preparation is needed, and treatment can be done on nearly any adult animal.
“The only incident in which laser therapy may have a negative effect would be if a tumor was present in the animal,” Rosene explained. “The laser would stimulate tumor growth. Also, laser therapy is generally only performed on adult animals, as stimulating the growth plates of adolescent animals can be harmful.”
Rosene uses a product designed and manufactured by Litecure. She carries the laser and the machine that powers it in a special case which can be transported safely. The machine itself is automated and is preset with hundreds of recommendations for the treatment of a variety of animals and injuries or other common issues. The display panel, similar to an iPad, can also record treatment practices Rosene has used on the horses she has visited. This allows the technician to keep a record for each individual horse on what treatment has worked best during a past visit, along with recommendations for treating a new issue or injury.
“Laser treatment is a long-term solution,” explained Rosene. “You treat several times and build on the healing that has been done. It is not a quick-fix, but it is worth it because these horses have careers, and if not, then they are retired, and are even more a part of the family.”
According to Rosene, the best part of her decision to treat animals with laser therapy is getting to know both the animal and the owner — and watching the healing take place.
“My reward is to see the client smile and to bring the animal relief,” said Rosene. “Sometimes there are tears of joy all around.”
For more information about the science of laser therapy and the benefits of treatment, or to reach Patti, visit Equine Laser Therapy online at www.equinelasertherapyinc.com .