Swedish researchers have come up with a blood test method that can help in diagnosing brain injuries or concussion among sportspersons.
Until now, doctors could neither diagnose concussion nor determine its seriousness, thus preventing athletes from taking proper medication.
The new blood test method finds out the amount of protein tau (T-tau) released when the brain is injured. The amount of T-tau present helps in determining the concussion problem in athletes. This can further aid them in getting proper advice about the safety in continuing with the game.
"We have a biomarker (indicator) that is elevated in the blood of players with a concussion," said lead researcher Dr Pashtun Shahim, from the department of neurochemistry at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Molndal. "The level of T-tau within the first hour after concussion correlates with the number of days you have symptoms. We can use this biomarker to both diagnose concussion and to monitor the course of concussion until the patient is free of symptoms."
According to Shahim, elevated T-tau level causes dizziness, nausea, trouble concentrating, memory problems and headaches.
The study involved hockey players who commonly suffer from concussion problems. Reuters reported that the new method is so effective that doctors can find out about the problem in an hour.
"In ice hockey and other contact sports, repeated concussions are common, where the brain has not finished healing after the first blow," Henrik Zetterberg of the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, who led the study, told Reuters.
In the US, around 1.6 million to 3.8 million sports-related concussions are reported annually.
At present, the diagnosis of concussion is often not confirmed as the test is based on clinical findings only, and imaging is typically normal. There is no marker or indicator to determine diagnosis.