World’s First Blood Test for Brain Injuries Could be Created

Dr. Linda Papa might be on the path to creating the world’s first blood test for brain injuries. Her work has demonstrated that particular proteins are generated shortly after an injury to the head and those proteins can be detected in the patient’s blood. A study of 295 people was conducted to investigate the presence of proteins. Almost one hundred of them had a mild or moderate concussion.

Dr. Papa found two proteins that were showed higher levels in the group who had brain injuries. These proteins can be found within about one hour of the injury, and up to four hours later. CT scans also showed higher levels of these proteins for people with brain injuries.

Her research is exciting because mild traumatic brain injuries, also known as concussions, can be difficult to diagnose. For example, with the huge number of young people playing in football leagues each fall, there are many potential brain injuries that may go unrecognized because the physical symptoms could be very minor. However, what has happened inside the skull could be much worse than what is observed superficially.

In some cases, cultural attitudes play a role, reflected in such sayings as “no pain, no gain” or “take one for the team.” The result is that players and even coaches will not know that continuing on with the game is the worst thing for the brain injury. Also, of course, there are cases where players have multiple concussions over the course of a season but they don’t want to sit out. The result may be brain damage which could have easily been prevented.

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