Medical researchers have found that using a simple blood test can detect evidence of a traumatic brain injury.
The blood test, when analyzed, will show a biomarker in the patient that has had a traumatic brain injury.
The biomarker is known as glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). These proteins are found in glial cells that surround brain cells (neurons).
When the traumatic brain injury occurs, the GFAPs are released. This protein is present in the bloodstream and researchers were able to detect measurable levels of GFAP up to one week after the injury.
This blood test is extremely important, as patients in the hospital may not manifest typical symptoms of a traumatic brain injury such as vomiting, loss of balance, blurred vision or headaches right away. The blood test will allow traumatic brain injury to be diagnosed even without the severe symptoms.
This is extremely important regarding children who suffer concussions or traumatic brain injuries as the child and who may not directly express their symptoms. This blood test allows the diagnosis of a traumatic brain injury that may otherwise not have been diagnosed.
In addition, this blood test is important as it will dramatically cut down on the need for expensive CT scans of the brain and will cut down radiation exposure on patients.
This blood test could ultimately change the way traumatic brain injuries are diagnosed.
If patients are not diagnosed properly and treated appropriately, long-term problems can occur. Untreated or undertreated traumatic brain injuries can lead to prolonged headaches, dizziness, memory loss and depression.