Fascinating Findings

Countless uses for deep tissue laser therapy.

Vermont native Roland Desjardins spent the bulk of his 30-year career in the US Air Force flying refueling tankers. The career he began shortly after leaving the military was one seemingly inspired by all those years spent soaring the heavens.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Roland Desjardins

“At the urging of a very dear friend of mine who just happened to be a Catholic priest, I went to the seminary, and in 1985, I was ordained by the Diocese of Orlando as a deacon in the Roman Catholic Church,” Roland explains.
Now 84, Roland considers himself only semi-retired because he remains quite active in the church. He still helps celebrate Mass on Sundays, but a bewildering condition recently made it difficult for him to perform even the simplest daily activity.
“It was back about six months ago that I began having problems with dizziness and balance,” Roland relates. “There were a few times on Sundays during Mass, I literally had to hold onto the altar because I was afraid I was going to fall.”
After Roland did indeed fall at home one morning, he went to see if his primary care physician could determine the cause of his problem and suggest a remedy. What Roland’s primary care physician did was recommend he visit an ear, nose and throat specialist.
Roland followed that recommendation, but he was further frustrated when the ENT specialist failed to find the cause of the problem. The doctor suggested that Roland visit a physical therapist.
“As soon as the doctor said I could go to any physical therapist I wanted to, I knew I was going to go to Regional Rehab because I’ve known the two physical therapists there for years,” Roland says.
The therapists Roland refers to are Charles Donley, PT, and Paul
Ernandes, PT, PhD.
“They’re both great guys. Paul, who is one of our parishioners at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church, was my physical therapist many years ago after I had both of my hips replaced. I have the utmost respect for him.”
Roland was referred to a physical therapist specifically for vestibular rehabilitation, which is usually performed through a series of exercises designed to alleviate the dizzying symptoms associated with vertigo or inner ear disorders.
“When I did my assessment, A and B weren’t adding up,” Paul notes. “So, I asked Roland, Have you recently had a cold? When he said he had, I asked him when the dizziness started. He said, Right after the cold. That’s when I decided the laser might be what was needed.”

Thinking Outside the Box

The laser Paul refers to is the Class IV deep tissue therapeutic laser, which uses wavelengths of red and near-infrared light to stimulate the body’s natural ability to heal cells by causing the release of nitric oxide.
Paul says it acts like a “snowplow on a winter’s street,” releasing nitric oxide, which removes congestion and swelling. It has also proven to be effective in treating burns, wounds and a series of musculoskeletal issues such as chronic and postoperative pain.
At Regional Rehab, the laser certified staff has found many other uses for the Class IV deep tissue therapeutic laser, having administered thousands of laser treatments over the past 10 years.
“People will come in for one problem or another, such as neck pain or knee pain, and they’ll tell us that they’re also having problems with their sinuses or their ears or something,” Paul explains.
“And we’ll often incorporate laser treatments into their plan of care because we have found that a lot of times, they’ve got inflammation that we can penetrate and alleviate through specific laser settings.”
It was because of those experiences and positive outcomes that Paul opted to treat Roland with laser therapy before going ahead with the typical rehabilitation regimen used for inner ear problems. The immediate results amazed even Paul and greatly pleased Roland.
“After just one treatment, Roland was ninety-five percent better, meaning his dizziness was almost completely gone,” Paul reports. “We continued treating his neck and ear for three more visits, and at the end of those, he was completely free from dizziness.”
“I feel so much better now,” Roland confirms. “The dizziness and the imbalance I was having are all gone, and it started to go away as soon as the laser treatments began. I’m telling you, what it did for me is fantastic.”
Roland is one of several patients who have followed Paul, the former director of physical therapy at Oak Hill Hospital, to Regional Rehab, where he has joined forces with owner/rehab director Charles C. Donley, PT. Shannon*, who suffers from a chronic disorder called amyloidosis that causes stiffness in soft tissue and joints, is another.
In addition, Shannon suffers from myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells, and over the course of the past few years has undergone a series of surgeries, including bilateral knee replacement surgery, cervical fusion surgery and bilateral carpal tunnel surgery on her hands.

“I trust Paul implicitly. . . . He makes sure you’re getting what you need from each treatment, which is why I’ve recommended him to so many people. He’s just the best.” – Shannon

“Shannon is one of the people who I thought the laser combined with the HIVAMAT® 200 deep oscillation therapy could help the most when I first came to Regional Rehab,” Paul explains. “I had treated her with traditional physical therapy in other work settings after all her surgeries but was never able to give her much relief. When she contacted me, I told her, We’ve tried everything else; let’s try the laser and HIVAMAT and see if that can help you.
The HIVAMAT 200 creates gentle impulses that relax muscles and penetrate all tissue layers to remove from the cells all the inflammatory byproducts that cause pain but are not part of the cells’ natural makeup.

Combo Treatment

Shannon began receiving the laser and HIVAMAT treatments late last summer. By the middle of fall, the combination of the two treatments had sparked a marked improvement in her comfort and mobility.
“I have a lot less pain and stiffness in my neck, shoulders and hands. I can also do a lot more with my hands now,” Shannon reports. “It used to be I couldn’t brush my hair or put on a piece of jewelry or even make dinner for my family. Now I can do all of that.”
Shannon says she plans to continue receiving laser and HIVAMAT treatments in the hopes she will regain normal function.
“I trust Paul implicitly,” she says. “He really is wonderful. He explains everything and is so thorough with his evaluations. He makes sure you’re getting what you need from each treatment, which is why I’ve recommended him to so many people. He’s just the best.”
Charles agrees, saying: “As the rest of the team here will tell you, Paul is a great addition to our staff of professionals, and we’re delighted that he has joined our Regional Rehab family.”

*Patient’s name changed at her request.
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    • Regional Rehab

      Regional Rehab's ultimate goal is to enrich people’s lives by helping to enhance their physical and mental well being, creating an atmosphere of quality care and optimum healing with a loving touch.... Read More

    • Charles C. Donley, PT

      Charles C. Donley, PT, is director of Regional Rehab. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Therapy, graduating cum laude, from the University of Pittsburgh, PA. He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association and Fl... Read More

    • Paul Ernandes, PT, PhD

      Paul Ernandes, PT, PhD, joined the Regional Rehab team in April 2018. His arrival comes after he spent nearly a year serving as the director of physical therapy at Vitality Physicians and Rehab. Paul previously worked for ten years as the dire... Read More