According to a new study published in the Journal of Neurotrauma, a new blood test could help doctors in the emergency room quickly diagnose traumatic brain injury as well as determine its severity.
The findings could help identify patients who suffer from TBI and could benefit from extra therapy or even experimental treatments. According to Frederick Korley, M.D., Ph.D., the study’s first author, “Compared to other proteins that have been measured in traumatic brain injury, BDNF does a much better job of predicting outcomes.”
The study shows that TBIs, which range from mild concussions to much more severe injuries, have a range of symptoms which are generally caused by damaged brain cells. Until recently, many physicians relied on CT scans and diagnosis of symptoms to determine the severity of the TBI as well as appropriate treatment. However, CT scans are only able to detect brain bleeding, not damage to brain cells.
Korley states that, “A typical situation is that someone comes to the emergency department with a suspected TBI, we get a CT scan, and if the scan shows no bleeding, we send the patient home…However, these patients go home and continue having headaches, difficulty concentrating and memory problems, and they can’t figure out why they are having these symptoms after doctors told them everything was fine.”
In the study, Korley and collaborators sought to find out if a blood test could better predict which patients would suffer from brain injury-related problems as well as attempt to provide better treatment for them. The team observed 300 patients with TBI as well as 150 patients without and measured the levels of three proteins that have been suspected in playing a role in brain cell activity. They then followed the patients for six months, assessing their outcomes. The research revealed that one protein, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), taken within 24 hours of head injury, could predict the severity of a TBI as well as how a patient would fare. Patients with high levels of BDNF recovered for the most part up to six months later, while those with low levels did not. Testing BDNF levels in the emergency room could help identify patients with serious injury.
TBI and Personal Injury
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