Researchers are developing a blood test that can detect concussions in children and possibly contribute to improving safety in youth contact sports.
Once researchers used the blood test on 152 children, it was discovered to be accurate in diagnosing concussions 94 percent of the time. Instead of relying on time-consuming field tests, CT scans or other methods to detect concussions, this blood test can be much easier to use. Researchers claim the test “takes the guesswork” out of diagnosing concussions.
The test works by measuring levels of glial fibrillary acidic proteins, which surround neurons in the brain. After sustaining a brain injury, these proteins are released into the bloodstream and can be picked up by the new test.
Many children with concussions have dizziness, headaches, nausea and vision problems. Diagnosing children can take guesswork, which can delay getting help in some circumstances.
Can New Concussion Tests Help Children Avoid Brain Injuries?
Although this test could have several future uses in medicine, one way it could be utilized is to quickly diagnose brain injuries in young athletes. In youth sports such as football, young athletes are at high risk of sustaining concussions. If a concussion is not diagnosed quickly, and a young athlete receives another blow to the head, they risk suffering from a condition called second impact syndrome. Second impact syndrome can cause severe brain damage or death.
Having a test that can provide a quick and easy concussion diagnosis could help prevent cases of second impact syndrome because coaches would have greater certainty on which players to remove from the field.
As tests become easier to use and more mobile, complications from concussions could become less severe in the near future.