Detecting microRNAs in the saliva of children and young adults with mild traumatic brain injury appear to better identify people with prolonged concussion symptoms than a standard survey of reported symptoms.
Concussion symptoms typically go away within 2 weeks but some children can have prolonged symptoms. An objective test to identify children at risk of prolonged symptoms would help children and their parents know what to expect. Prior research has suggested that concentrations of microRNAs, small noncoding molecules found throughout the body, change in response to traumatic brain injury.
A study was done in children and young adults to compare the methods effective in detecting traumatic brain injury. Fifty-two children and young adults (average age 14) with mild traumatic brain injury mostly from sports or car accidents split into two groups: 30 with prolonged symptoms and 22 with acute symptoms.
This is an observational study. Because researchers are not intervening for purposes of the study they cannot control natural differences that could explain study findings.
Concentrations of five microRNAs in saliva appeared to more accurately identify the children and young adults with prolonged concussion symptoms than a survey that measured symptoms.
Study Limitations: This is a small study of 52 patients; validation of the accuracy of microRNAs in a larger study group is needed. Future studies should examine microRNAs alongside neuroimaging and functional measures such as balance and processing speed.