New Blood Test Can Detect Concussions In Kids

Posted: Nov 9 2015, 10:18pm CST | by , Updated: Nov 10 2015, 10:48pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

New Blood Test can Detect Concussions in Kids
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  • New Blood test can detect subtle signs of concussions!

The blood test has been developed by researchers at Orlando Health to detect concussions in children.

A new type of blood test has been developed by Orlando Health researchers. The blood test has the capability to detect even very subtle signs of concussions. The blood test is aimed at concussions in children. The blood test identifies the presence of brain injuries by 94 percent accuracy. The new discovery was just published in a research paper.

Linda Papa is an emergency medicine physician and NIH funded researcher at Orlando Health. Linda Papa is also the lead author of the study. According to Papa the discovery could ultimately change the way concussions are diagnosed. Other than children anyone with a head injury could be helped.

"This could ultimately change the way we diagnose concussions, not only in children, but in anyone who sustains a head injury," said Linda Papa.

"We have so many diagnostic blood tests for different parts of the body, like the heart, liver and kidneys, but there's never been a reliable blood test to identify trauma in the brain. We think this test could change that," she said.

Previously there had never been a reliable blood test to identify trauma in the brain. This would be the first diagnostic blood test for concussions.

The study was published in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine. In the study researchers performed CT scans on 152 children. The results were then compared to the results of their latest blood tests.

The data showed blood test detected symptoms of concussions. Even brain injuries not visible on the CT scan could be detected. A simple blood test was just as accurate as a state-of-the-art CT scan.

"With our blood test, we were able to identify the presence of brain injuries 94 percent of the time," said Papa. "This simple blood test was nearly as accurate as a state-of-the-art CT scan."

The blood test was performed only 6 hours after the brain injury. The blood test also indicates the severity of the brain injury.

"We were looking at different types of brain lesions detected by the CT scans, ranging from mild to serious injuries, and found that the biomarker we tested for actually corresponded to the injuries. Levels of the biomarker were lower in mild cases, and were much more elevated in severe case," said Papa.

The blood test look for biomarkers called glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). The GFAP are found in the glial cells surrounding the neurons in the brain. Injury to the brain releases GFAP. They pass the blood-brain barrier and enter the bloodstream. It makes GFAP easy to detect with this particular test.

"CT scans can provide a more definitive profile of the injury, however, they are expensive and are associated with radiation exposure," said Papa. "You really want to minimize the amount of CTs you do to your patients, especially children, who are a lot more sensitive to radiation and the side effects that can come with it."

"If there was a simple diagnostic tool like a blood test that can tell us quickly and accurately if a brain injury has occurred, and how severe it might be, that would be ideal," said Papa. "That's what we are striving for with this project."

"The idea is to get a point-of-care test that could be used on the field, to help the coaches, the trainers and the athletic directors, make a decision then and there about whether the child should go back to play," said Papa.

It's estimated nearly a quarter of a million children a year are treated in hospitals for traumatic brain injuries like concussions, that occur while playing sports. That's an average of nearly 700 children a every day.

"If we could find a simple test that takes the guess work out of diagnosing these kids, that would completely change the way we approach concussions and would certainly give parents greater peace of mind," said Papa.

Researchers hope the test will be commercially used within the next 5 years.

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