New Blood Test will Diagnose Concussions Immediately after a Hit

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center recently developed a blood test that can diagnose sports-related concussion immediately following a major hit. The test detects a specific brain protein, called S100B, which is released after a concussion occurs. Traumatic brain injury attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm hope this new development will protect the health and safety of our nation’s athletes.

The test would be administered with a simple finger-prick, and the blood could be analyzed from the sidelines. S100B testing is used in Europe to diagnose and asses intracranial bleeding and to determine if a patient requires a CT scan. The new test still needs approval from the FDA before it can be used in the States.

Currently, coaches and sideline medics evaluate symptoms like confusion, headache, and dizziness to diagnose concussions, however, this is often incredibly inaccurate, and can have fatal consequences. Symptoms as elusive as confusion can be misjudged and players eager to get back into the game know they can down-play what they’re actually experiencing. A blood test could change this, and potentially save lives.

Tragedy leads to Change

Several high school athletes have passed away in recent years from hard hits to the head, most recently in Arizona. The Hopi High School student died at a local hospital after sustaining a hit from the other team, during a playoff game.

A recent report from the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council found that high school football has by far the highest rates of concussion. The average player is twice as likely to suffer a brain injury compared to college players. According to the report about 250,000 teens were admitted to the ER for concussions and sports-related injuries in 2009, which is a significant leap from 2001, when only 150,000 teens suffered serious brain injury. Overall, about 3.8 million sports-related concussions occur in the U.S. every year.

The difference in severity of brain injury between high school and college football players is likely due to the lack of available medical staff. College and pro football teams employ a team of neurologists, physical therapists and other health care specialists, who are available on the sidelines whenever injuries occur. High schools have neither the means nor the funds to employ such a staff, and many cannot even afford proper athletic equipment.

The report also highlighted that between 10 to 20% of athletes who suffer concussions continue to experience symptoms months and even years after the hit. The researchers conclude that there is an intense need for more and improved data on this subject, particularly regarding the effectiveness of the latest helmet technology.

Researchers involved in the study urged parents, athletic directors, coaches and the public to pay close attention to what is known, so better-informed decisions can be made both on the field and off. This can include everything from learning better tackling techniques (a clinic for which took place at the Beas’ training facility recently), promoting safer play, and recognizing concussion symptoms.

Other studies suggest that a player with a history of concussions is more at risk for future concussions, and the severity of injury is greater in players who previously endured two or more concussions. Some health care facilities, such as the Mayo Clinic, offer baseline concussion testing t young athletes. Testing sessions are available to any athlete over the age of ten who participates in a high-impact sport, such as football, hockey, lacrosse or wrestling. It costs about $20 per test, and takes place during specific days and times.

It is important to remember that every concussion presents itself differently and is not always accompanied by a loss of consciousness. For more information on clinical diagnosis and prevalence of concussions, go to the Mayo Clinic’s sports-related concussion site, here.

Our team of traumatic brain injury lawyers has been working on these types of cases for over two decades, and we understand how devastating a brain injury can be, particularly when suffered by a young athlete. If your child suffered a traumatic injury from contact sports, a car crash, or any other type of accident, contact our firm immediately for a free case review.

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