Every year millions of people suffer concussions, whether they're sustained playing sports or in car accidents.
Often, victims don't receive immediate and appropriate medical treatment because concussions can be difficult to diagnose.
According to a recent study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, that might soon change - as there appears to be a new way to diagnose concussions through a saliva-based test.
“What’s exciting about this is we not only found a very accurate way of identifying brain trauma, but also we found it in saliva, which is not invasive,” Antonio Belli, co-author of the study and a trauma neurosurgery researcher at the University of Birmingham in the UK told The Washington Post in March. “Everybody, including myself, has been looking at blood for many years. We’ve never really seen anything so exciting for mild traumatic brain injury.”
The saliva-based test measures expression levels of 14 noncoding RNAs in saliva, including MicroRNAs, which are messages the cells transmit in response to an event such as a brain injury.
MicroRNAs are most abundantly found in saliva.
“Salivary glands are connected directly to the brain by nerves,” Belli told British news publication The Guardian. “We’re seeing this response within minutes of injury.”
Researchers focused on 1,000 male rugby players for the study, who commonly experience head injuries in the sport that is akin to American football without protective helmets or gear.
Through the saliva test, researchers were able to detect concussions with a 94% accuracy.
However, this UK-based study only targeted males. Further studies would need to be done that could be applied to women based on research that suggests that there are gender-related differences in concussions.
The future of diagnosing concussions?
Researchers are in the process of developing an over-the-counter version of the saliva-based test. The test could provide a diagnosis to victims of car accidents and others suffering from head injuries.
There’s currently an FDA-approved blood test for concussions. There is also a saliva-based test being developed by researchers at Penn State. This test could result in the development of a handheld tool that could deliver results within half an hour.
Head injuries in car accidents
Although new testing methods via blood or saliva are being developed, concussions are oftentimes difficult to diagnose and treat. This is especially true after car accidents.
Symptoms of concussion include headaches, confusion, nausea, or slurred speech and can often take days or even weeks to appear.
Sometimes there are lasting long-term effects from a concussion, such as:
- Loss of memory
- Motor functions issues
- Changes in personality
- Problems with vision or hearing
Patients sometimes require treatment from specialists to undergo physical, occupational, cognitive, or speech therapy as well as medication or surgery.
If you suffered a concussion, call Jeff
After a car accident, a concussion victim may experience lost income due to their medical issues, as well as mounting bills related to their injuries.
At Weinstein Law, personal injury attorney Jeff Weinstein has decades of experience representing clients who have sustained concussions and other brain injuries in car accidents. Jeff and his team know how to build a strong case and fight for every dollar that you deserve.
Discover what our law firm can do for you and contact us today for a free consultation. Located in Athens, we're proud to serve clients throughout East Texas and statewide.