A fascinating article in USA Today reports that Army researchers have discovered a simple blood test that may help diagnose concussion or mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI). This could prove to be a game-changer for detecting (and then treating) the hidden damage often suffered by soldiers and athletes after head impact, and by infants after being shaken.
“This is huge,” said Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army vice chief of staff.
Army Col. Dallas Hack, who has oversight of the research, says recent data show the blood test, which looks for unique proteins that spill into the blood stream from damaged brain cells, accurately diagnosing mild traumatic brain injury in 34 patients. Doctors can miss these injuries because the damage does not show up on imaging scans, and symptoms such as headaches or dizziness are ignored or downplayed by the victims. (from USA Today article)
This is similar to the type of blood test used to measure the proteins associated with muscle damage, and which are now routinely used to determine whether there is heart damage after a patient complains of chest pain.
Currently, diagnosing MTBI is a matter of faith and truthfulness–it depends on the patient accurately answering questions about symptoms…and on the doctor or coach believing the answers. Although more medical testing will need to be done to confirm the early research results, this marker could remove all doubt. That means that soldiers and athletes could be forced to rest to allow their brains to recuperate. It also means that researchers will have a new way of measuring whether particular treatments actually work to reverse the brain damage, especially in infants, who have no way to communicate.
This is an amazing first step in what will probably be several more years of research. Congratulations, Army. This is a major win!
To read the full story, click here: “Army Finds Simple Blood Test to Identify Mild Brain Trauma”
And to learn more about legal options for brain injury, check out our dedicated web page here: www.hensonfuerst.com. If you have questions, HensonFuerst has answers.