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Scientists develop blood test that detects concussions

Scientists have developed a new blood test that may be able to diagnose traumatic brain injuries and concussions within an hour of the initial injury. The test might help patients in Louisiana and elsewhere get early treatment and avoid further injury.

Many mild brain injuries go untreated because current diagnostic tools, such as CT scans, are not sensitive enough to detect them. This can leave concussion patients vulnerable to re-injury if they are not prescribed the rest and recuperation required for recovery. However, researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA have discovered certain proteins that appear in the bloodstreams of people who suffer brain injuries. These proteins are released from injured brain cells, called astrocytes, and they appear in people with even mild concussions.

For the study, researchers used pressure pulses to injure human astrocytes and found that the trauma caused them to leak specific proteins. They then looked for the proteins in the blood of brain injury patients from the first day of their injury until up to five days later. They found that the proteins were present as soon as an hour after the brain injury occurred. The authors of the study believe the discovery could lead to earlier diagnoses and better outcomes for brain injury patients.

Brain injuries can cause numerous long-term health problems, including memory loss, cognitive issues, mood disorders and brain degeneration. If a brain injury is caused by the negligent actions of another party, such as a drunk or distracted driver, the injured victim may have grounds to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. This could lead to a settlement that covers current and future medical expenses, lost wages, mental anguish and other related damages.

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