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New Blood Test May Diagnose TBIs

The diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) is a major health concern within the American medical community. According to the Brain Trauma Foundation, about 52,000 fatalities occur each year as a result of TBIs. In addition, more than 5 million Americans are currently living with TBI-related disabilities. The Foundation also reports that TBIs are associated with a significant increase in Alzheimer’s disease risks. It is a serious problem that sends millions of injured individuals to the emergency room each year. Though there are numerous causes of TBIs, sports related injuries are among the most common. The problem is continuously growing, with increased incidents reported annually.

The severity of traumatic brain injuries makes early diagnosis even more vital. Towards that end, doctors and researchers are constantly looking for innovative methods to identify the condition at its earliest stage. A recent report in the Star Tribune discusses a new process of diagnosis that researchers find promising. They have reportedly spent decades searching for a blood test that adequately indicated the presence of a concussion, as well as its severity.

According to the report, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania tested a group of professional hockey players who exemplified symptoms of persistent concussions. They found high level of a specific protein present in their blood. They determined that the protein SNTF surged during the occurrence of a concussion. When compared to players who quickly recovered from concussions, the protein remained at a more elevated level in players with persistent symptoms.

Robert Siman is a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania. He is quoted in the article as stating, “These results show that SNTF has promise as a good biomarker for sports-related concussion.”

Currently, verbal communication of symptoms and CT scans are often used to diagnose TBIs. Reports assert that these tests are “imprecise and indirect”. These inadequacies keep doctors, sports coaches and athletes from making informed decisions about the seriousness of head injuries. As a result, sports players are often prematurely returned to sporting activities, which can quickly exacerbate the injury.

Details of the Research Study

Researchers have spent 20 years studying SNTF, in hopes of finding a correlation with brain injuries. Some of the study’s significant details include:

***SNTF is usually undetectable within axons, which are nerve cells in the brain

***The MRIs of the studied patients showed brain abnormalities or the patients reported “thinking difficulties”

***After injury, SNTF collects within the axons and overflows into the blood stream. This can happen even when the CT scan shows no abnormalities.

According to Siman, a longer research study is necessary to validate the effectiveness of the blood test. However, the overall goal is to develop a test that removes speculation from diagnosis. As stated in the article, researchers hope that a simple prick of blood will determine whether athletes can return to play, which may greatly decrease the frequency of fatalities and debilitating injuries.

If you or a loved one suffers from a traumatic brain injury that was caused by another, individual, contact the experienced birth injury attorneys of Levin & Perconti today at (877) 374-1417 for a free consultation.

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