PHOENIX — Researchers at the Orlando Regional Medical Center are reporting progress on a blood test that could be used to diagnose concussions, according to a recent study.
A study of 600 adults at the center shows that a concussion blood test based on two proteins is likely years away from routine use, but the new findings could be a big step in developing a test that could be used in broad settings.
“This study is demonstrating that there is leakage of these proteins from cells into the bloodstream, which is an indication that the cells are structurally changed and have been damaged,” said Dr. Amaal Starling, neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale.
The tests measured proteins in brain cells in the patients named GFAP and UCH-L1.
About half of the adults had suffered a mild concussion from something like a sports injury or a car accident, while the others had some type of non-brain trauma.
The levels of the proteins were much higher in patients with concussions.
Blood samples were taken four hours after the injury and periodically for the next seven days.
Starling said while a blood test would be beneficial in helping to diagnose concussions, several aspects would have to be adjusted to make the test more accepted.
“It would have to be very reliable and very sensitive,” she said. “It would have to be easily reproducible and it would have to be point of contact, so on the sideline (of a sports field or court, immediately after the injury happens). It would also have to be cheap.”
Starling said while there’s some progress with the blood tests, other tests are ongoing that use sweat or saliva to find the proteins. She said those could be more feasible to determine if someone has a concussion.