A newly developed blood test may soon be able to allow medics to accurately distinguish a sports-related concussion from a less-serious problem in players, while they are on the field.
The simple on-field finger-stick test, developed at the University of Rochester, detects a brain protein — known as S100B — that is a known biomarker for traumatic brain injury. In Europe, it is already being used to decide who is at high risk for intracranial bleeding and in need of head CT scanning.
In new research published in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS ONE, Jeffrey J. Bazarian, M.D., said studies involving 46 college athletes in Rochester and Munich, Germany, found the test accurately identified increased levels of the protein in those suffering serious brain injuries.
The current method of diagnosing concussion — based on symptoms such as loss of consciousness, confusion, and headache — is subjective and inaccurate, making it difficult to determine which players should come out of a game.
But the new test could help coaches and trainers make better decisions more easily.
For the new study, 46 athletes completed preseason baseline testing for S100B. Later testing, during the season, found that the S100B levels of athletes later confirmed to suffer concussions soared an average of about 81 percent.
Bazarian and his colleagues concluded that in these athletes a rise in S100B levels greater than 45 percent was indicative of concussion.
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