Approval for a blood test that will help aid in detecting concussion in adults has been given by the US Food and Drug Administration to Banyan Biomarkers.
The new test is a significant step forward in helping to more precisely diagnose concussion for several reasons. First, it can be taken directly after an injury event and results can be had within 3-4 hours. The blood test looks for proteins that are released when the brain suffers injury. The current protocol is for a combination of symptom evaluation by a doctor or nurse and follow up with a CT scan. Neither of these diagnostic tools, however, are particularly precise. In fact, CT scans typically do not show concussion 90% of the time, missing more subtle injuries.
As discussed in our previous blog on concussion, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is now observed in many athletes who were never diagnosed with a concussion in the athletic careers. This means both that concussions are not necessary to cause significant brain damage in the long term and that there is a likely failure to diagnose concussions in real time.
CT scans provide a large does of radiation and are not as effective in ruling out concussion. Additionally, they are much more expensive than the more accurate blood test. The hope, of course, is that this test will be a large step forward in the diagnosis and treatment of brain injuries.