I know, I know; more concussion talk. Concussions have been a hot topic for several years now and it seems the topic is almost exhausted. Yet, here we are again with more developing research. However, this time the research could diagnose concussions on the sideline with only one quick test needed.
Researchers at the University of Rochester have been examining a protein found in the brain that may help diagnose concussions. All it takes is a finger prick, a few drops of blood, and examining this protein’s levels on the sideline to determine if an athlete is truly concussed or not. The protein is called S100B (you’d think scientists could’ve come up with an easier name to say). Elevated levels of this brain protein can indicate physical exertion and possible brain injuries.
Researchers tested S100B levels in 46 athletes over the age of 18 at the beginning of their preseason. Athletes’ S100B levels were tested again after physical exertion. Researchers found the protein levels rose an average of two percent in each athlete. Furthermore, the study continued to follow these athletes throughout their season. During their seasons, 22 of the athletes suffered a clinically diagnosed concussion. Researchers measured each athlete’s S100B level within three hours of their injury. Results showed S100B levels averaged 81% above baseline levels. Lastly, the researchers concluded that a rise in S100B levels of at least 45% is nearly equivalent to a clinically diagnosed concussion.
European researchers are taking this information to the next level. They are utilizing the protein test as a prevention technique and studying patients with brain injuries to see which may be at risk for internal bleeding and should have a CT scan. These researchers have hopes to get the protein test approved for concussion diagnosis in the United States, but will need to perform additional studies that achieve similar results as their initial study. Supplementary research will also need to be tested on a variety of ages, sports, and both genders before this test could become the gold star in concussion diagnosis. However with all the technology and interest in concussions we have today, this could happen quickly.
If this research progresses quickly, the protein test could potentially become the new normal for sideline concussion diagnosis. Would you be willing to get a quick prick on the sideline to see if you had a brain injury or could possibly go back into the game immediately? Let us know what you think.