REDjuvenate Light Therapy Center in Pittsburgh helps relieve pain for some
Seeing red gives Beth Cober the ability to get up and go.
A few times each month, the Morgantown resident drives to Pittsburgh to visit REDjuvenate, a light therapy center in East Liberty.
Cober, who suffers from fibromyalgia, a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, lies in a whole-body light therapy bed for up to an hour at a time. The device uses wavelengths of red and near-infrared light to penetrate the skin and create a biochemical effect within the cells that increases mitochondrial function. The FDA-approved treatment is known to reduce aches and inflammation, relax muscles and joints and increase blood circulation.
For Cober, a recent knee-surgery patient, it’s a healthy alternative to pain pills.
“I’m always looking for complementary treatments to go along with seeing my regular doctor,” she said.
When saunas, massage and acupuncture didn’t work, she headed to REDjuvenate, where a trained technician used a THOR handheld laser therapy device on her swollen knee. After a few sessions, she said she ditched her crutches.
Dr. Dwight Heron, a radiation oncologist in practice for nearly two decades, is co-founder of REDjuvenate. For years, he’s used the procedure to ease the side effects his cancer patients experience, such as skin irritations and mouth ulcers.
He said clinical trials pioneered in Pittsburgh giving insight into how red light therapy works and the ways it can help everyone — from people with chronic diseases to fatigued office workers to athletes with injuries — find relief.
REDjuvenate is the first facility of its kind in Pennsylvania. The center opened on Penn Avenue in June. It boasts a bed, several hand-held units and two technicians: Christa Iams and Giulio Conte, who both graduated from Slippery Rock University with degrees in exercise science.
When people arrive, they fill out an intake form to help the staff determine the best treatment options: localized treatment, whole body application or a combination of both. Treatments vary from 10 minutes to an hour a few times a week, depending on the patient.
Tony Recchia, a PGA champion, made an emergency stop at REDjuvenate in the middle of a three-day golf tournament when pain began restricting his swing. He had treatments on his back and shoulders and hit the links the following day, better than ever.
The lifelong athlete, who played football at the University of Pittsburgh in the early 1980s, said he’s tried every method of easing sports-related discomfort, but he’s most impressed by red light therapy.
After Recchia’s son hurt his hip flexor during a basketball game, the teen “went red” and was back on the court within a week. In his prime, it took the elder Recchia six to eight weeks to recover from the same injury using other remedies, such as ice baths.
“I am an extreme believer in it,” he said of the treatment.
Heron and the other shareholders, many of them fellow physicians, hope to add more beds to the East Liberty location and then open centers in the North and South hills and eventually cross state lines with their concept.
Cober hopes they make it to Morgantown.
“Ideally, I would like to go twice a week,” she said. “It does make a difference in my energy level.”