Simple blood test could help detect concussions sooner

Researchers in Saskatchewan hope a simple blood test will help detect a concussion sooner. Devin Sauer / Global News

SASKATOON – Could a simple blood test detect a concussion sooner? That’s what researchers in Saskatchewan are attempting to find out.

As part of a joint effort, researchers at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) have been given funding for the further development of a diagnostic kit that would test for a “protein biomarker” that essentially detects a concussion sooner.

Early studied have shown that high levels of one particular biomarker in the blood stream is an early indication of a concussion.

According to Changiz Taghibiglou, who is leading the research, all it would take is a few drops of blood to determine if someone has suffered a traumatic brain injury.

“A meaningful, non-biased, and easy-to-use diagnostic tool is urgently needed,” said Taghibiglou, who is the pharmacology researcher at the U of S College of Medicine.

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“This is true not only for mild traumatic brain injury, but also to guide treatment strategies in moderate and severe cases where current methods don’t provide the physician with much guidance.”

READ MORE: Should concussion baseline testing be mandatory for young hockey players?

According to Taghibiglou, diagnosing a concussion early is critical as few patients may have the initial symptoms. It would then leave them at risk for dangerous complications, including death, if they don’t receive proper treatment or get hit again.

At this point in time, there is no reliable technique to rule out a concussion.

Taghibiglou and his team, which included collaborators from the University of Toronto and Harvard University, have partnered with the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) to validate the blood test.

“The prevalence of traumatic brain injury is underestimated in our society, yet generates huge direct costs to our healthcare system and long-term costs to patients and their families,” said CDRD president and CEO Karimah Es Sabar.

According to data, at least 20 per cent of all sports-related injuries that occur are concussions.

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