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Researchers Develop Blood Test To Diagnose Concussions

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There’s a breakthrough that could make diagnosing concussions easier and faster. Researchers have developed a new blood test.

Monique Griego has more on how it can help keep athletes safe.

Doctors in the sports medicine field say the study is definitely a step in the right direction. They’re hopeful it will one day lead to on-field testing.

From the professional level to junior programs, brain trauma and its effect on athletes is a growing concern. But determining whether a player has suffered a concussion isn’t an exact science.

Doctors like Andrew Tucker from MedStar Sports Medicine say much of a diagnosis is based on symptoms reported by the patient.

“It’s very subjective because some people want to get back out and play,” Tucker said.

But now–a breakthrough. Researchers in Sweden have developed a blood test to diagnose concussions after injury.

“It’s a test for markers in the blood that are indicative of some damage to the brain tissue or the nerves in the brain,” said Tucker.

The study followed 288 Swedish hockey players over five months. During that time, scientists tested blood samples from 35 believed to have sustained concussions.

The test found elevated levels of certain proteins related to the injury. Tucker says, beyond a diagnosis, the test can also help track a player’s healing process.

“When the markers go back to a normal level, that potentially might be another way to help us understand when the brain is safe to return to a sport,” Tucker said.

Right now, the test can only be done by drawing a patient’s blood and results can take at least a day. But the hope is that it will lead to a portable test with quicker turnaround.

“In a perfect world, we’d have a blood stick test that you could do at the side of a field or the side of a court and have immediate feedback. But we’re not there yet,” Tucker said.

The tests in this study were performed one hour after the suspected injury.

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