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Huffer, Arany named co-directors of newly formed Photobiomodulation Center of Excellence

ISSUED: 15 May 2020
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University’s School of Nursing has named Dr. Kelly Watson Huffer, Shepherd associate professor of nursing, and Dr. Praveen Arany, assistant professor, School of Dental Medicine at the University of Buffalo and president of World Association of Laser Therapy, as co-directors of the newly formed Photobiomodulation Center of Excellence at Shepherd. The creation of the center was made possible by a multiyear grant from the Foundation for Photobiomodulation Research.

In photobiomodulation (PBM) therapy, a practitioner applies low-level lasers or light-emitting diodes to the surface of the body to improve tissue repair and reduce pain and inflammation. PBM is seen as a way to treat some pain-causing medical conditions instead of using opioids, and is used as a complementary therapy to more traditional methods of pain management and wound healing.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to put this technology into the hands of the providers in the region and to deliver complementary therapy for this epidemic of opioid addiction within our current pandemic,” said Dr. Sharon Mailey, dean, College of Nursing, Education, and Health Sciences, and director, School of Nursing. “Evidence from 5,000 studies provides the scientific evidence that therapeutic intervention using this technology can be successful.”

Huffer and Arany are designing an online certificate program that will be offered to nurses, physical therapists, wound care practitioners, and physicians who will be trained with online theory then come to Shepherd for a four-day, hands-on intensive conference workshop. Huffer said efforts have also been underway to integrate PBM into the nursing curriculum at Shepherd, giving students hands-on time to learn how to use the technology. Doctor of Nursing Practice degree students will eventually take PBM equipment to community health centers where they participate in clinicals and will be able to use PBM on patients.

“I think it’s a very valuable piece of technology to put into the hands of the practitioners we’re sending out into the community,” Huffer said. “If we can get buy-in from them and they can see the benefit of it, then it will be another tool in the toolbox for combating pain and wounds and some of the chronic diseases that often lead people down the path of substance abuse disorder. If we can intervene with that before it even gets started, that’s good.”

Initially, Shepherd will offer the certificate course regionally, with plans to eventually offer it nationally and internationally.

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