Some head injuries are detected by standard screening methods while others go completely undetected. Researchers say a new blood test may help catch milder concussions that often go undiagnosed but still can cause long term health issues.
The blood test, explained in a study published Monday in BMJ Pediatrics Open, uses biomarkers to locate sub concussions in the brain -- most importantly, ones that CT scans normally miss.
"The study was intended to fill gaps in knowledge about the performance of this FDA approved blood test in patients of all ages with milder forms of traumatic brain injury/concussion," Linda Papa, a researcher at Orlando Health and study lead author, told UPI. "It shows the potential of using a blood test to gauge the severity of a brain injury even when a CT scan is negative."
People with head trauma but no concussion symptoms are often not being screened for the condition, researchers say, which is why they set out to create a method to pinpoint the biomarkers common in head injuries that CT scans don't normally catch.
The study included 751 pediatric and adult emergency room patients with either a concussion, a head injury but no obvious sign of concussion or a body injury with no head trauma or concussion.
The blood test was able to locate increased levels of two proteins, GFAP and UCH-L1, both of which typically mark the presence of concussions and sub concussions in the brain.
Each year, the CDC estimates up 3.8 million concussions result from sports injuries. And emergency rooms get about 2.5 million traumatic brain injuries annually.
"Once it becomes practical to use, it could be used as a sideline tool for assessment of concussion and could potentially be used to inform decisions about whether the child should return to play or not, and may help decide if the child requires further evaluation at the hospital," Papa said.