New Blood Test Detects Concussions Days After They Happen

Concussions are a serious problem in the world of sports, particularly when it comes to youth sports — concussion symptoms are sometimes delayed in children (less commonly in adults, as well), meaning an evaluation immediately after an incident may not accurately reflect the nature of the injury. Researchers have discovered a way to deal with this, developing a new type of blood test that can identify whether someone has suffered a concussion up to a week after it happened.

Untreated, a concussion presents a larger danger when it comes to one's immediate and future health — a young football player, for example, may develop trouble concentrating in school after suffering from an untreated concussion, not to mention other potential issues like memory loss, headaches, dizziness, and more.

These symptoms may be minor, at least initially, and may only appear after a couple days have passed. According to a new study, it is possible to detect these concussions several days after they've taken place using a diagnostic blood test that looks for a particular biomarker called glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP).

This biomarker is described as being unique to the central nervous system and brain, and as such it gets released into the blood stream when the brain suffers some sort of injury like a concussion. Because the biomarker sticks around in the blood stream for several days after the injury, doctors have a relatively fast and inexpensive way to determine whether such an injury has occurred as all. According to the study, researchers analyzed the blood from almost 600 patient volunteers, substantiating the discovery.

SOURCE: Orlando Health