Blood Test to Diagnose Concussion Approved

blood test to diagnose concussion

Blood Test to Diagnose Concussion Approved

I’m Ed Smith, an Elk Grove personal injury lawyer. Traumatic brain injury takes an enormous toll on athletes and non-athletes alike. Whether an individual is hurt on the football field or in a car accident, the key to proper treatment is an early diagnosis. Until recently, this was accomplished by observation and at autopsy. The FDA has released a new blood test to the market that will be used to diagnose a concussion.

The Test

The test works by identifying specific substances in the blood that herald mild brain trauma. The two proteins are:

  • UCH-L1: This protein is normally used to eliminate brain-specific cellular waste.
  • GFAP: Glial fibrillary acidic protein is found in supporting cells in the brain called astrocytes.

The proteins are found at high levels in the blood within 20 minutes of suffering a head injury. FDA approval was based on a pivotal study presented by the San Diego company that developed the test, Banyan Biomarkers.  In the study, 2,000 patients that were suspected of suffering a brain injury were evaluated using the blood test. A negative test correlated with a finding of no brain damage on a CT scan in 99.5 of subjects. This allows doctors to decide on the spot whether a CT scan is needed. CT scans are an expensive tool that do not always show brain injury.

FDA Rapid Approval

The test called the Brain Trauma Indicator was given approval by the FDA in less than a six-month time frame. Often approval can take years to receive. It was accomplished under a new program called the Breakthrough Devices Program. It is intended to give patients access to new low-risk technologies that provide for fast, effective diagnosis or treatment for devastating disease. It expands the Expedited Access Path formerly in place that allowed devices to clear the hurdle to approval quicker.

Dissenting Opinion

One biochemistry professor in Sweden, who works with early identification tests, said the use of one of the proteins may be misleading. UCH-L1, he said, was useful in very early detection of brain trauma, but that within two or three days may not be as useful.  For later detection, he believes other substances might be more capable of detecting brain injury.

What Is a Concussion?

Concussion is difficult to diagnose. To understand why, let’s look at what happens after trauma. When an individual receives a blow to the head, their brain that is encased in the skull, wrapped in protective coverings and cushioned by spinal fluid, suddenly moves around impacting the skull. This results in bruises on the brain and damaged nerves and blood vessels. The blood vessels can tear, and blood accumulates putting added pressure on the brain. All of this causes neurological symptoms. There are three different levels of concussion: mild, moderate and severe.

Symptoms of a Concussion

A concussion is a mild form of traumatic brain injury, often without discernible symptoms. In some cases, the concussion is more intense and symptoms are obvious. It can affect balance, memory, mental acuity, vision, nausea and cause vomiting, headache, slurred speech, ringing in the ears and difficulty concentrating. Some may be rendered unconscious. After a concussion, an individual may suffer from post-traumatic concussion symptoms.

How Concussions Are Usually Diagnosed

Concussions are usually diagnosed by evaluating the patient’s coordination and other factors. The Glasgow Coma Scale uses eye movement, speech and muscle movement to determine the level of concussion. A diagnosis is usually confirmed with a CT scan. Due to the unreliability of the CT scan to pick up brain damage, some concussion patient’s are mistakenly diagnosed.

Related Information by Elk Grove Personal Injury Attorney, Ed Smith:

Elk Grove Personal Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, an Elk Grove personal injury lawyer. When you suffer a concussion due to the negligence of another, you can be compensated for medical bills and lost wages. Give me a call at (916) 694-0002 in town or (800) 404-5400 outside the area. I can always be reached online too.

I’ve helped Elk Grove residents since 1982 with wrongful deaths and bicycle accidents as well as truck accidents.

You can learn about my practice by reading comments on Avvo, Yelp and Google. Want to know how I resolved some cases? Go to my settlements and verdicts page.

I am a California member of the Million Dollar Advocates. We are a nationwide forum of attorneys who have won $1 million settlements and verdicts for our clients.

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