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A simple blood test may be all it takes to diagnose a concussion, according to new research out of Sweden. The study identified total tau protein (T-tau) as the unique biomarker able to confirm concussion diagnosis and predict the severity and duration of symptoms.
T-tau is typically found only in cerebral spinal fluid. But a blow to the head may cause it to get into the blood if the blood-brain barrier is damaged.
T-tau is one of the biomarkers also found to predict the onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia in otherwise healthy individuals.
The Canadian government and a few strategic partners have committed $7.5 million to concussion research. The money will support 19 projects focused on concussion prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
Health Minister Rona Ambrose acknowledges the struggle that brain injury causes many families. “Whether it’s a hockey concussion, a senior’s fall, or violence in the home, injuries take a huge emotional toll on families and communities,” says Ambrose.
Five projects will examine concussions in youth. A University of Calgary project will follow hockey players ages 11 to 17 over a five year period.
A Canadian study on head injury in teens has gained worldwide attention this week.
According to the study, one in five students in grades 7 to 12 say they have suffered a head injury. Close to 6% reported an injury in the past year serious enough to knock them out for more than five minutes or require hospitalization. A little over half of these were sports-related.
The study also found a link to alcohol and marijuana, finding users more at risk of head injury.