Above: Pictured cutting the ribbon for the new PBM facility at Shepherd’s Wellness Center are (front row, l. to r.) Dr. Jennifer Flora, director of PBM Wellness; Dr. Praveen Arany, Center of Excellence for PBM interim executive director; Jill Upson, executive director, West Virginia Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs, representing Gov. Jim Justice; Dr. Robert Bowen, Berkeley Medical Center Wound Care in Martinsburg; Dr. Kelly Watson Huffer, director of PBM advanced practice in nursing and associate professor of nursing at Shepherd; Dr. Sharon Mailey, dean of the College of Nursing, Education, and Health Sciences and director of the School of Nursing at Shepherd; Dr. Mary J.C. Hendrix, Shepherd president; Dr. Donald Patthoff, PBM Foundation president; Dr. Ben Martz, interim provost at Shepherd; and Del. John Doyle, West Virginia Legislature 67th district, back row, Chris Strovel, field representative for Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.); Scot Faulkner, director external and regulatory affairs, PBM Foundation; Dan Neff, district representative for Cong. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.).

The Center of Excellence for Photobiomodulation at Shepherd University officially opened on March 21 with a ribbon cutting and day of informational seminars for the public, health professionals, scientists, and lawmakers on photobiomodulation (PBM) as a clinical treatment for a variety of diseases and conditions that currently lack effective treatment.

Shepherd received $500,000 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) money through the West Virginia governor’s office to further its photobiomodulation (PBM) program, which offers a new, cutting-edge therapy using laser light that aims to reduce the impact of deadly diseases such as COVID-19 and treat pain to help fight the ongoing opioid crisis.

“The Center’s vision is to universally improve health and wellbeing by using the science of PBM and the devices to deliver therapies to speed recoveries from injury and illness,” said Dr. Jennifer Flora, director of PBM Wellness, before the ribbon was cut. “We are in the business of changing lives for the better. Our goal is to help people thrive using innovative technology and it starts today at the Wellness Center with convenient PBM services for our campus and surrounding community.”

PBM activates the body’s healing and pain-relieving mechanisms, promoting faster healing and tissue repair as well as reducing pain and inflammation. Evidence supporting the effectiveness of PBM treatments is growing based on more than 500 human clinical trials in the areas of acute trauma and degenerative diseases such as macular degeneration, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, dementia, back and neck pain, shingles, and other neuropathic pain syndromes. PBM knowledge, skills, and devices enhance many current treatments and often work when other treatments don’t. Numerous ailments are often reversed, and the quality of life is restored

Dr. Praveen Arany, interim executive director, said the Center’s three core goals are to focus on wellness, explore deaddiction to opioids, and treat long COVID-19 symptoms.

“A lot of people have had COVID-19 and as they are recovering, we are finding things like fatigue, depression, other kinds of chronic diseases that are causing concern,” Arany said. “We would like to use this innovative treatment that is nonpharmacological and noninvasive and focuses on the host’s resilience. We are trying to make people healthier and better.”

Arany said the Center also plans to further the research that has been done on PBM, recommend standards for light therapy devices, and educate the public about the benefits of this treatment.

Since the fall of 2016, Shepherd has been engaged in a partnership with the PBM Foundation, which has funded the necessities needed to attract leading experts in the field, unveil PBM as a major new light-based health initiative in our region, initiate the first training courses in PBM technology, and establish the Center of Excellence for PBM. The CARES Act funding is giving Shepherd the opportunity to expand the program, purchase more equipment, and engage the public.

A designated space in Shepherd’s Wellness Center houses the equipment needed to provide PBM therapy to individuals suffering from various forms of pain as well as extreme fatigue as a side effect of having COVID-19. Treatments take just minutes per session and can be repeated up to three times per week. Known PBM benefits include improved overall wellness and athletic performance, temporary relief from pain and soreness, and reduction in joint stiffness to improve mobility.

The Wellness Center is offering three free PBM sessions until May 1, 2022, and is offering additional sessions for a fee, including packages. For more information, visit the Photobiomodulation Therapy at the Wellness Center website.

From Shepherd University