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No symptoms required: Blood test under study can detect concussions

(AP Photo/Mike Groll)

PHOENIX — Soon, doctors may be able to detect whether someone has a concussion – even if there are no symptoms.

A blood test, developed by Orlando Health researchers, is currently under study. It measures the level of a protein that’s produced when the brain is injured. So far, a study shows the test is fairly accurate in both children and adults.

Dr. Javier Cardenas heads the Barrow Concussion and Brain Injury Center at the Barrow Neurological Institute.

“These [proteins] were sensitive enough to detect an injury within an hour of injury,” he said.

Time is of the essence when treating any brain injury, from mild to severe. Cardenas says this test could get people back to work or sport faster.

“In the clinic – or when someone comes to the emergency room – they’ll be able to detect whether they’ve had a concussion and when it’s safe for them to return.

The test study is in the May 2016 issue of the journal JAMA Neurology.

In most instances, traumatic brain injuries can only be diagnosed through a combination of certain symptoms (i.e. loss of balance & blurred vision) and medical imaging like CT scans or MRIs. Unfortunately, those can be unreliable.

The only true way to identify a concussion is through a series of neurological examinations (gauging someone’s vision, hearing, balance and other things). But even those can take awhile, and time is of the essence in treating some brain injuries.

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