London: Scientists have developed a game-changing blood test that accurately identifies whether or not an adolescent athlete has suffered a concussion. Scientists from Children’s Health Research Institute, a programme of Lawson Health Research Institute, and Western University said this blood test gives results with greater than 90 per cent accuracy, reports IANS.
Concussion is a major public health concern, often resulting in significant acute symptoms and in some individuals, long-term neurological dysfunction. Diagnosis of a clinically significant concussion, or a mild traumatic brain injury, can be difficult as it currently relies on a combination of patient symptom assessment and clinician judgment.
Equally problematic are the decisions to stop play or activities, or when patients who have suffered a concussion can safely return to normal activities without risking further injury. In this new study, researchers have demonstrated that a blood test can now accurately diagnose a concussion using a form of blood profiling known as metabolomics.
Douglas Fraser, physician in the Pediatric Critical Care Unit at Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre and Lawson scientist, led the study with his co-investigator Mark Daley, Professor in the Departments of Computer Science, Biology and Statistics and Actuarial Sciences at Western University.
In the relatively inexpensive test, blood is drawn from an individual that may have suffered a concussion as the result of a sudden blow to the head within 72 hours of the incident. The scientists measure a panel of metabolites – small molecules that are the products of the body’s metabolism – in the blood to search for distinct patterns that indicate a concussion has occurred.
“This novel approach, to use blood testing of metabolites as a diagnostic tool for concussions, was exploratory and we were extremely pleased with the robustness of our initial results,” says Fraser, also an associate professor at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry.
In this latest successful attempt, the researchers took a different approach and investigated a full spectrum of 174 metabolites. The researchers investigated a full spectrum of 174 metabolites in concussed male adolescent patients and in non-concussed male adolescent patients and it turned out that the spectrum was really different.
“We can now look at sets of as few as 20-40 specific metabolites and maintain the diagnostic accuracy level of the test over 90 per cent,” said Daley, who is also Western’s Associate Vice-President (Research).
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