New Research Shows Spinal Tap Test May Indicate Severity of Sports-Related Concussions

Recently, numerous lawsuits have been filed against athletic associations charged with protecting players’ safety in different sports. These high-profile lawsuits have shed more light on the severity of traumatic brain injuries and the potential repercussions of those injuries. With increased attention from the media related to the occurrence and treatment of traumatic brain injuries, medical professionals have been focusing on techniques to identify and treat sports-related brain injuries in an effort to mitigate the consequences that often result from such injuries. A recent article from Scientific American highlights the potential for spinal tap testing to help medical professionals understand the potential severity of a sports-related traumatic brain injury.

Understanding Risk Factors

Sports-related injuries often result in concussions, which can cause temporary symptoms of confusion, memory loss, headaches, and other mild indicators. For many people, the symptoms of a concussion will resolve on their own, though medical professionals often recommend certain precautions be taken to ensure that the concussion is not more severe than it was originally thought to be. Sometimes, these symptoms persist longer and result in a condition known as post-concussion syndrome. Basically, post-concussion syndrome is diagnosed by a medical professional based on symptoms that persist beyond the normal time frame for those related to a minor concussion.

This medical diagnosis is different from another more serious condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (“CTE”). CTE is commonly associated with the recent lawsuits against various sports leagues as it usually develops many years after repeated traumatic brain injuries occur, especially in sports-related cases. However, a CTE diagnosis requires examination of a potential victim’s brain, which can only be done after the victim has died. Until the current research into the potential of a spinal tap test to indicate severity of an injury, there has been no objective test to determine the severity of a single traumatic brain injury or post-concussion syndrome as it relates to the potential development of CTE.

Understanding the New Research

According to the article, researchers from Sweden and the United Kingdom believe they have developed a test that can predict the link between these injuries and the potential development of CTE. These researchers gathered cerebrospinal fluid via a spinal tap from 16 professional hockey players in Sweden as well as the same amount of samples from healthy individuals. All of the hockey players from whom samples were gathered had experienced post-concussion syndrome, some with symptoms severe enough to cause them to retire from the sport. Each of these hockey players had elevated levels of neurofilament light protein, which is an indication of damage that has occurred to the cables which are used by neurons to communicate. There were other indicators found in the samples from hockey players that also indicate damage to the neurological transmission process.

Researchers believe that there may be a less invasive way to establish the presence of this type of damage. In fact, it may be able to be done via a simple blood test. However, researchers also noted that while this may indicate a breakthrough in deeper understanding of the severity of brain injuries, the results obtained form this study will need to be replicated in other similar studies in order to understand the accuracy of these indicators. However, as this new research progresses, it may offer medical professionals a way to determine when a player should be pulled from a sports game due to injury on a temporary or even permanent basis, ultimately combatting the occurrence of CTE in professional athletes.

Legal Assistance with Traumatic Brain Injuries

Much attention has recently been focused on the occurrence and treatment of traumatic brain injuries, especially those that are sports-related. With new techniques to identify and treat traumatic brain injuries, it is important that victims of such injuries receive prompt and effective medical care. If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury due to negligence, or if you have suffered complications because of improper diagnosis and/or treatment of such an injury, it is important to speak with a personal injury attorney that has experience handling cases related to traumatic brain injuries. The personal injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti have helped a variety of people suffering from such injuries to gain compensation for the immediate and long-term effects of brain injuries. Contact the personal injury legal team at Levin & Perconti to schedule a consultation to discuss the circumstances of the injury in question and find out what options might be available to you based on your circumstances.

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