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Ex-Pilot Hopes to Break Ground in Laser Treatments

After 10 years of accompanying pilots in F/A-18 Hornets, Top Gun school flight surgeon and instructor Dr. Jackson Streeter sought a career change that let him keep his feet on the ground.

Streeter, a former Navy lieutenant commander and an instructor with the Naval Fighter Weapons School , or Top Gun, as it’s commonly known , made the switch to the high-risk and uncertain world of being an entrepreneur.

In May 1997, Streeter founded Acculaser Inc., a medical-device firm in San Diego, with $750,000 in private investment money.

He wanted to develop a low-level cold laser to treat musculoskeletal injuries caused by whiplash, tendinitis, sprains, strains and carpal tunnel syndrome.

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The idea to build a laser to treat muscle injuries dates back to Streeter’s Navy days as a surgeon, where he treated pilots for neck injuries , a common side-effect of the vigorous flying maneuvers.

Streeter said the former Eastern bloc countries long used lasers to treat such injuries as opposed to the painkillers used in the United States.

He hopes the Food and Drug Administration will approve the device by mid-2001.

A 55-patient study at the Naval Health Research Center in Point Loma, where recruits with tendinitis in their knees were subjected to a 10-minute laser treatment with the “Acculaser Pro,” seems promising, Streeter said.

The device works like an ultrasound. A probe is attached to the skin to increase the small vessel circulation and reduce edema, or extra water in the cells, Streeter said.

He plans to submit test results to the FDA this month.

If approved, Streeter plans to lease the device to orthopedic doctors and physical therapy clinics for a $240 monthly fee and a $6 charge per laser treatment.

Streeter joined forces with a national independent sales force specializing in orthopedic products to get a foothold in the market.

Streeter admits leaving behind 400 hours in the cockpit of an F/A-18 isn’t easy to do. “I miss flying,” he said.

Business may not offer an adrenaline rush like flying, but waiting for FDA approval should give Streeter enough of a thrill for now.

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