Researchers may be on the verge of the “holy grail” for concussion tests. Researchers have developed a blood test that has so far proven to be highly accurate at detecting concussions among children, including both whether a concussion has occurred, and the severity of the consussion.
Currently, when a person has suffered a suspected concussion, doctors and medical staff have to conduct a concussion test, which involves a series of tests and question regarding symptoms, vision, and ability to complete certain tasks.
While this test has proven to be relatively effective at diagnosing concussions, a new blood test may take all the guesswork out of diagnosing concussions and will also allow doctors to pinpoint how severe a concussion is.
Concussions are caused by severe head trauma. Between 2001 and 2009, an estimated 173,285 people under the age of 19 had to visit the emergency room because of potential concussions.
The tests works by measuring levels of specific protein to first discover if a person has suffered a concussion, and if so, how severe it is. So far, the test has proven to be accurate 94 percent of the time, making it nearly as accurate as the CT scan.
The test could prove to be a major breakthrough for athletics. The holy grail of concussion testing is to create a test that can be used on the sidelines of sporting events to diagnose athletes who may have potentially suffered a concussion. Currently, athletes are tested with a series of questions and other exercises, but the accuracy of such tests has long been questioned.
Athletics is especially important because the risk of injuries is high, yet at the same time the pressure for athletes to return to the game is also intense. The risk of concussions during sports, especially physical sports like football, is very high.
Researchers looked at 257 people, 197 of whom had suffered a blunt head trauma, whole the remaining 60 were part of a control group. Of those who had suffered blunt head trauma, 152 had CT scans taken to detect for concussions.
Next, the patients had blood tests taken to detect for glial fibrillary acid protein. This protein is found in the glial cells, which surround neurons and provide a sort of cushion for these brain cells. When a person is injured, the proteins are released.
Importantly, the proteins can also pass the blood brain barrier, which means that blood tests can detect them.