SC Aquarium now uses laser therapy for sea turtles

Courtesy: SC Aquarium

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP/WCIV) -- The high-tech therapies at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston now include a new laser to treat injured sea turtles and other creatures.The new laser was used for the first time at the aquarium on Tuesday on an injured sea turtle.The laser helps animals recover more quickly from trauma and helps with pain.Aquarium veterinarian Dr. Shane Boylan says laser therapy stimulates production of a chemical called ATP in wildlife. That's the chemical that help their bodies repair injuries and ease the pain from such injuries."The science behind laser therapy is fascinating," he said. "When an animal is injured or undergoes a trauma, cells become damaged. Cellular damage drastically reduces -and may even halt - the production of ATP, the chemical responsible for fueling injury repair and pain relief. That's where the laser comes in. The laser beams packets of light energy into the damaged tissue, causing the cells' mitochondria (cellular power plants) to spring into action, stimulating production of increased amounts of ATP. The correct laser dose can relieve pain and inflammation while improving the rate of healing."The new laser was used for the first time Tuesday on an injured Kemp's ridley sea turtle. The turtle was held by a staffer and blindfolded to protect its eyes. Dr. Boylan then treated a swollen joint with the laser to stimulate production of ATP to help the body repair its injuries without side effects.The aquarium previously had to rely on volunteers with access to a laser to bring it in periodically for animal treatment.The new $24,000 laser is a gift to the aquarium by a donor and by Loggerhead Apparel."It's an honor to partner with the Sea Turtle Program to help fund a technology that has such a proven track record for effective rehabilitation," said Loggerhead Apparel co-owner Sara Painter, who began the company with her husband, Zac in 2011. "The Aquarium is doing great things for the Carolina coast and beyond, and we couldn't be more pleased to be a part."

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