New blood test could detect concussions quickly and reliably in the future

New blood test could detect concussions quickly and reliably in the future

Researchers find proteins that can indicate concussion
New research suggests that doctors can use a simple blood test to determine if people are going to have a concussion in the future. Such a head trauma is linked to a certain protein. This can still be found in the blood a week after the injury.

We will soon be able to determine much more easily when people suffer from a concussion. Researchers from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences found in an investigation that a simple blood test could be enough to detect concussion early. Delayed diagnoses could therefore no longer postpone treatment. The doctors published their study in the journal "JAMA Neurology".

New blood test could quickly give clear results
Thanks to a new method, we can probably use a simple blood test in the future to determine whether people are suffering from a concussion. This advance would enable faster and more effective treatment, the researchers explain. The study examined patients at a Florida hospital. The results obtained indicate that a concussion in the future can simply be detected by a blood test. However, a routine application is likely to be a few years away, the scientists explain. But the new findings are at least an essential step to develop a test that quickly provides clear results at sporting events and in medical practices, the experts add.

Biomarkers provide various information about an existing injury
Several biomarkers have been found useful for the diagnosis of concussions. Each of these biomarkers gives us different information about the injury, explains co-author Dr. Ramon Diaz-Arrastia from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. The American researchers examined nearly 600 adults in Orlando. More than half of all subjects showed a commotion (concussion) due to car accidents, falls, sports or other activities. Most of these tremors were mild and sufferers experienced symptoms such as loss of consciousness, amnesia or disorientation. The rest of the adults had fractures or other types of injuries, doctors say.

New test measures the GFAP and UCH-L1 proteins
The blood samples were first taken four hours after the injury and then repeated at regular intervals for seven days, the experts explain. The tests measure two proteins called GFAP and UCH-L1. Such proteins are present in our brain cells. In the event of a head injury, the proteins can leak into the bloodstream, the researchers say. Other studies have shown the highest level of protein in the blood level when the victim has suffered serious injuries. Both proteins could be found in higher amounts if the sufferers suffered a concussion, the doctors add. The proteins were also found in small amounts in some patients who did not have a concussion. The proteins here probably came from a bulge on the head that was caused by an accident, the researchers say.

Many sufferers go to the doctor too late with a concussion
The level of the UCH protein rose rapidly after a concussion, but also decreased significantly within two days. However, the GFAP level was still detectable during the week after the injury, the doctors explain. Many concussion patients do not take the injury seriously at the beginning and therefore do not go to the doctor. Most of the time they only see a doctor if the symptoms persist for a few days, the scientists explain. Blood tests could help such patients diagnose their injury more quickly. This could determine whether neurological tests or other medical treatments are required. The data is encouraging because the easily detectable biomarkers can help detect concussion, the researchers add.

New blood test could help athletes in particular
In the U.S. alone, more than 2 million people are treated for concussions and other brain trauma in the emergency room every year. Some damage cannot be seen on imaging tests, which is why doctors generally rely on the symptoms found. The diagnosis is very important because repeated hits to the head are associated with permanent memory problems, the researchers say. Experts say that concussion symptoms such as dizziness and tiredness can also be caused by dehydration. Dehydration is another danger, especially for athletes. Scientists explain that a quick, reliable test that can distinguish between the two conditions would be a useful tool in the treatment of athletes.

There are blood tests that can diagnose problems in other organs, such as diseases of the heart, liver or kidneys, say the doctors. Now the researchers say they are about to develop a quick test that examines the brain. In the future, the experts will perhaps be able to use a handy device to determine within minutes whether the proteins are present and whether they are concussion. (as)

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