Innovation

Can Blood Testing Detect Concussions?

Concussion is a mild form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that occurs due to a traumatic blow to the head. It has both short- and long-term effects that could affect an individual’s functions from hours to weeks. 

The immediate effects of concussion include headache, temporary loss of consciousness, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, blurred vision and sensitivity to light and sound. These conditions could last only for hours after the incident.

But in some cases, the patient may experience long-term effects, which may also require longer medical attention. After the traumatic brain injury, the patient may experience memory problems, psychological problems, sleep disturbances, trouble concentrating and problems with smell and taste. 

It is important to detect a concussion early for immediate treatment. However, currently available tools are either expensive or with limitations. 

But the medical community and the sports industry previously started to look at a new approach to identify a concussion. Health experts in 2018 introduced blood test as a diagnostic tool. 

To date, doctors use CT scan or MRI scan to observe the brain for potential damage. However, CT scan may not always detect a simple or mild concussion. 

The new traumatic brain injury blood test appears effective to identify the condition. Experts said it could also reduce the radiation exposure from CT scans and avoid unnecessary imaging scans. 

The test works by identifying proteins and enzymes that the brain releases into the blood after an injury. Lower levels of these substances in blood samples means no intracranial damage occurred, according to Eve Valera, an assistant professor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

“As these tests evolve, they may prove to be more sensitive than CT scans at determining intracranial damage,” Valera, who is also a research scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital, said in an article posted on Harvard Health Blog

The TBI blood test may soon be useful in patients with mild brain injury. Valera said the approach is improving and could become more sensitive than CT scan at observing brain damage. 

“When someone has symptoms of a mild TBI (also called a concussion), the need for a CT scan, the type of scan most typically performed in these cases, is much less clear,” Valera added. “In a majority of mild TBI cases, a CT scan finds no abnormality and is ultimately unnecessary for many people.”

Football Concussion Concussion is a mild form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that occurs due to a traumatic blow to the head. Pixabay

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