We have heard many times the word concussion and how serious it is, but some people have no idea why. A concussion is basically a traumatic brain injury. The brain is well protected inside the skull floating on a liquid, but direct hits to the head or accidents that shake  it violently can cause the organ to crash against the skull causing injuries.

They are very common among athletes and the main problem is that it is very difficult to diagnose them. They cannot be detected in usual brain scans and the doctors rely on the symptoms to diagnose the problem. After an accident, if the person suffers from temporary loss of consciousness, they are likely to have a traumatic brain injury. Also, there are cerebral function problems related to this kind of trauma.

A concussion is basically a traumatic brain injury. Photo credit: Emaze
A concussion is basically a traumatic brain injury. Photo credit: Emaze

A blood test can be the answer

To diagnose problems, doctors have a lot of options. One of the most common methods is finding biomarkers in blood tests. Looking for biological evidence is very efficient and a group of specialists, including Dr. Linda Papa of the Orlando Health emergency, are trying to use this method to diagnose concussions.

According to the team, whenever a brain trauma occurs the brain leaks two proteins nicknamed GFAP and UCH-L1 into the bloodstream. They tested a group of 600 adults who had suffered accidents, such as car crashes, falls and sport injuries. They were all treated in the Orlando Regional Medical Center.

The team took blood samples from all of them 4 hours after the injury and then every seven days. The proteins were found in all subjects, but the concentration was higher when the subject suffered a violent accident. The levels of the UCH protein were high, but after two days they had almost dissipated. On the other hand, the GFAP was steadily high during 7 days following the injury.

The director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Dr. Walter koroshetz, dubbed the investigation “the holy grail for head injury” research.

Detecting concussions on time could save a lot of problems for people that had accidents in the future.

NHL athletes and boxers are well known for developing problems regarding brain functions long after retiring. Since the symptoms might not seem serious many people avoid going to the doctor attributing them to fatigue, dehydration or even lack of sleep. The results of the experiment are preliminary, but they are they first step to detect brain injuries leading to efficient treatments.

The study was published on March 27, 2016, on JAMA Neurology.

Source: CBS Seattle