National Public Radio authored a piece that covered Penn State Hershey’s development of a new test that measures genetic material in saliva to detect the existence of concussions in children. The results were almost 90 percent accurate. When concussed, the brain attempts to repair itself at a cellular level and this action leaves biomarkers that can be found in saliva.
Current concussion diagnosing protocols are about 70 percent accurate.
This “spit test” would allow for doctors to send the saliva to a lab and have results back the next day. The usefulness of this test goes beyond the initial diagnosis of concussion, but also would be very helpful in ascertaining recovery and therefore the release of children back to playing sports and other activities.
Recent studies have demonstrated that repeated concussions, and subsequent blows to the head, or brain shaking, while already concussed, can enhance long term damage to the brain.
While in most instances children will move past the concussive symptoms over the course of a few days, around 25% will show lasting symptoms. This saliva test, if it continues to prove effective through studies, will both help to determine the existence of a concussion in border line cases and help to ascertain rate of recovery.
A link to the NPR article upon which this post is based is here.