This discovery could change the way we diagnose concussions forever.
A new blood test could detect a concussion in an individual effectively, and may completely revolutionize one of the biggest parts of sports medicine and a growing concern in sports.
In recent years we’ve come to realize just how big of a deal concussions are, and how much damage they can do on the brain. But it has been until now been difficult to quickly and effectively diagnose when a concussion has happened, as symptoms are oftentimes delayed in children and sometimes in adults as well, so an immediate evaluation may not be sufficient. However, a new type of blood test could help us know for sure up to a a week after the incident, according to an Orlando Health statement.
Concussions can be absolutely devastating for people’s health, and is a high risk for young football players, which can result in problems concentrating at school after an untreated concussion. Down the road, it can result in memory loss, headaches, and even crippling depression.
But there’s hope. Scientists have developed a diagnostic blood test that looks for a biomarker called the glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). This biomarker appears to be unique to the central nervous system and the brain, and is typically released after a brain injury. It also lingers for days, allowing doctors to easily test for such an injury later.
“Symptoms of a concussion, or a mild to moderate traumatic brain injury, can be subtle and are often delayed, in many cases by several days,” Linda Papa, MD, MSC, an emergency medicine physician and NIH funded researcher at Orlando Health and lead author of the study, said in the statement. “This could provide doctors with an important tool for simply and accurately diagnosing those patients, particularly children, and making sure they are treated properly.”
“If patients are not diagnosed properly and treated appropriately, it could lead to long-term problems,” she added. “This test could take the guesswork out of making a diagnosis by allowing doctors to simply look for a specific biomarker in the blood.”