Interview with Steve Shanks, Vice President of Erchonia Medical.
TAC: Tell us about your product and what it does?
Shanks: The Erchonia laser is the first low level laser to receive FDA market clearance; Erchonia opened a whole new industry in non-invasive patient care. We currently have FDA approval for chronic neck and shoulder pain and post-surgical pain. We should have another approval for the treatment of acne by the time this article is published. We are also doing clinical trials on wound healing, burns, carpal tunnel and several other indications.
TAC: How did you develop this product?
Shanks: We started in the laser business in 1996, when my partner, Kevin Tucek, started fixing lasers from Europe. At that time, he built his first prototype and filed his patents and we have been growing ever since. We currently have several device and application patents and have several more pending. We continue to do ongoing product development, which is proven through the many patents we have.
TAC: Is there any training needed to successfully use your product?
Shanks: Yes, and that is one of the problems. For chiropractors, we definitely feel there is a need for training. You can point and shoot and get results similar to ultrasound; but if you really want to learn to use a laser, go to a seminar by John Brimhall, Jeff Spencer, John Donofrio or Dan Murphy and Richard Amy, You can see some of the biggest names in chiropractic lecture on how to use the Erchonia laser, because they know it works and their reputations are on the line.
TAC: Are there any precautions that need to be taken before using it?
Shanks: That depends on the laser. There are no known side effects with low level lasers, but they are lasers. Depending on the power, some require safety glasses and some don’t. There are class IV lasers that are now approved that are being marketed to chiropractors. A lot of these lasers are not in their scope of practice or you have to start putting interlocking mechanisms on your doors before you can use them. The doctors really need to do their homework
TAC: Is there anything controversial about the use of your product or others like it?
Shanks: Yes. This is a new industry and, just like a lot of other industries, manufacturers will say anything to sell you a laser. Most don’t have the proper regulations to even sell their product. Some companies are advertising light products as laser and all the research says light therapy is not nearly as effective as laser therapy. There is a lot of bad information out there on depth of penetration and power. Penetration and power do not guaranty a good clinical result. Look at the science and research behind a device before you purchase any medical device.
TAC: What are some of the comments you get back from chiropractors and/or their patients?
Shanks: I have testimonials on every condition you can imagine but, because of FDA restrictions, I will leave it at that. The doctors that have the lasers love them and a lot of them purchase multiple units as their practices begin to grow, because of the results they are getting. We did a survey of Erchonia purchasers and the doctors that replied back stated that their practices have grown an average of 5% to 50% because of our equipment.
Chiropractors are the best doctors for low level laser therapy because they understand how the whole body works together. Other professions keep chasing symptoms.
TAC: What are specific areas in which your product works best?
Shanks: Any musculoskeletal condition or anything that has to do with pain or tissue healing. I believe the applications are as limited as the doctor’s imagination. In the future, I believe that lasers will be as big in healing as the computer is to information technology.
TAC: Is your product being tested in other areas currently?
Shanks: Yes. We are currently doing clinical trials on burns, wound healing, carpal tunnel, acne, neck and shoulder pain, knee replacements, bunion surgery and hair restoration, just to name few.
TAC: What do you say to doctors interested in your product?
Shanks: The Erchonia low level laser is the most researched low level laser in the world, but do your homework. Do not listen to a sales pitch. Ask what research has been done and what has been published with the device that you are purchasing. Don’t purchase something from someone whose laser is just as good as an Erchonia laser unless they can prove it through the research they’ve done. We spend more money on research and patents than all of the other low level laser companies combined. We opened up the market in the US and plan to stay ahead of everyone else by giving our customers the quality and research backing they deserve.
TAC: To what type of doctor does your product appeal most?
Shanks: Chiropractic is our biggest market, but we also sell to physical therapists, plastic surgeons, cosmetic surgeons, dermatologists and pretty much every other medical profession. I believe Erchonia will help bridge the gap between the professions. We have more surgeons wanting to come to chiropractic seminars to learn how to treat pain.
TAC: Tells us the difference between ultrasound and cold lasers and when a doctor should choose one over the other?
Shanks: There is a new study that just came out that shows ultrasound works better for treating carpal tunnel than laser, if you are using an infrared laser. That is one of the reasons we don’t build infrared lasers. I believe I know why this is, but I don’t want to give my competitors an edge. I believe that we will be able to show better results with the Erchonia laser when our clinical trial is finished.
TAC: How is your laser different from others?
Shanks: We have done a lot of cellular research, which helps us tune our lasers into the precise power. We know through our research that, if we treat the body with too much power, the cells shut down and you get very little effect. There is a biological law called Arnat/Shultz that states “weak stimuli excites biological activity.” We also know, through research, that by pulsing the laser we can get much better effects than with constant wave lasers. We believe that is the biggest difference between Erchonia Medical and everybody else.