Blood tests are a comprehensive technique for assessing the health of any given person. These tests can reveal how well vital organs are working as well as aid doctors in diagnosing various diseases, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Quick, easy to administer and relatively painless, blood tests are an ideal way to help reach a diagnosis. Now, Swedish researchers from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg say they have created a blood test that will help diagnose sports-related brain injuries from sports such as football, rugby, ice hockey and others.
In their recent article published in the journal JAMA Neurology, the researchers explain that they have developed a blood test that can “show just an hour after a head injury how severe the concussion is, whether there is a risk of long-term symptoms and when the player can return to the sport.” Players in contact sports often sustain repeated concussions, which is particularly dangerous when the prior concussions have not had time to heal.
In the study, the researchers examined ice hockey players from the Swedish Hockey League. They discovered that 35 of the 288 players examined had suffered a concussion between September and December of the 2012/2013 ice hockey season. The players were asked to provide blood samples right after their concussions occurred and in the following days.
The researchers state that they have figured out how to test for a nerve cell protein in the blood, known as total tau or “T-tau,” which indicates when and if a player sustained a concussion. The T-tau levels also indicate the severity of a concussion and how long it will take to heal. The researchers say the test could be used in emergency situations to determine if an individual has a concussion or brain damage.
The findings were published online this month.