I recently read in the Wall Street Journal that a biomedical company may have developed a simple blood test to detect a concussion.
This is important, because until now physicians relied on the player communicating what they were feeling which is always subjective.
The Difficulty of Detecting Concussions
As a spine surgeon who takes care of New Mexico State University, I see my fair share of neck and head injuries.
With the increased knowledge of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), there has rightfully been an increase in awareness of the negative long-term effects of head injuries in all sports.
Physicians, trainers, and parents may not be able to say for certain whether an athlete has sustained an injury. With the development of this new blood test, the ability to definitively diagnose a brain injury is more likely.
The Current Problem
Currently, the main method to diagnose a brain injury is to obtain a CT scan of the brain. The problem is these scans are high in radiation.
However, a blood test would be a much easier way to diagnose an injury with less side effects.
How the Blood Test Works
Researchers from both the U.S. and Canada have been looking into developing blood tests that look at proteins unique to the brain. If they find these proteins in the bloodstream, this indicates that the blood brain barrier (a cellular barrier which isolates the brain from the rest of the body) has been disrupted allowing these proteins to leak out into the blood.
As a parent whose kids play soccer and as a University Team Physician, I am excited about the possibility of detecting brain injury in all athletes and preventing the chance of CTE.
Dr. Paul Saiz