Interest in Apathy – at last!

The more I observe people with Parkinson’s disease using photobiomodulation, the more astonishing and wonderful it is to see the positive effect of daily lights on the significant and debilitating symptom of apathy.

I was initially pleased to see an article called Diagnosis, treatment and management of apathy in Parkinson’s disease: a scoping review. Here’s the link to the full article.

I’ve already written quite a bit about apathy. Click here for earlier blog posts.

Apathy is a very scary symptom. As this article states:

In Parkinson’s disease, apathy results in poor response to motor symptom treatment, increased healthcare spending, decreased quality of life for persons with PD and their caregivers, as well as increased risk of developing dementia and increased difficulty making decisions in day-to-day life.

Mele B et al.

Apathy is a harbinger of an inexorable decline in movement, cognition, judgement and a predictor of early transfer to a nursing home. Not nice, to put it mildly. Apathy can be improved with exercise, and of course exercise can help other symptoms. Sometimes apathy is improved a little as a side-effect of drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors, but there is no known pharmacological treatment that can both reverse and stop the progression of apathy.

Transcranial red and near infrared light hats can! I’ve been watching friends with Parkinson’s for nearly four years now. I’ve seen the apathy symptom reversed and after nearly four years of daily transcranial lights, apathy has not re-appeared. This is a very important observation, and one that we need to celebrate more often.

It is great that there is more research happening into apathy in Parkinson’s disease. I just wish that there would be more attention paid to the evidence in the medical literature showing that transcranial photobiomodulation can have a profound effect on apathy – with no adverse side effects.

If all you need to do to keep apathy at bay is to wear your Cossack or Coronet twice daily , then why wouldn’t you? The added benefits are pretty welcome – improved energy levels, improved sleep, improved mood, improved movement and even rediscovering joy in life.


Mele B, Van S, Holroyd-Leduc J, et alDiagnosis, treatment and management of apathy in Parkinson’s disease: a scoping reviewBMJ Open 2020;10:e037632. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-037632

Thanks to Lucie Morel on Unsplash for the moving photograph.

Author: RedlightsontheBrain

Redlightsonthebrain is written by Catherine Hamilton, a retired doctor on behalf of Light Ahead Inc, a Tasmanian-based not-for-profit organisation. Light Ahead Inc aims to help people to learn about neurogenerative diseases and the practical, safe and scientifically-based things that may be able to help. Part of this is to provide low-cost access to red light devices, hence the DIY instructions on this blog. All sales of the Coronet red light device support the work of Light Ahead Inc.

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