I have seen a lot of patients with traumatic brain injuries. So when I saw this article, I thought, oh no, not another brain scan to come on the market. As it is, SPECT scans and PET scans are still somewhat controversial in regard to the definitive diagnosis of brain injury. I was very much surprised to read in New Test for Brain Injury on Horizon that the reference is to a blood test that would be able to detect proteins released in to the blood stream produced by an injured brain. Wow! This blood test would operate on the same model as proteins released by an injured heart muscle in the hours after a myocardial infarction (heart attack). This simple blood test revolutionized the detection and treatment of heart attacks, and if this brain injury blood test bears out in clinical trials, should save lives, direct treatment, and lessen injuries that until now, may be overlooked or incorrectly treated. The Department of Defense will be conducting the trials, and look for FDA approval as they hope for a blood test that they can “carry onto the battlefield”.

I have worked with a tremendous number of people who have the history and clinical symptoms of a traumatic brain injury or a carbon monoxide exposure, but have no “objective” test to document and verify their condition. Here’s to hoping that perhaps this blood test can one day be used to help out in all these situations.

A Look at Head Trauma

  • About 1.7 million people annually in the U.S. suffer a traumatic brain injury. Some can lead to long-term difficulties in functioning.
  • Most common causes among civilians are falls, car crashes and assaults. Blasts can cause brain injuries in soldiers.
  • About 75% of brain injuries are concussions or “mild” brain injuries.
  • 52,000 people in U.S. die from brain injuries annually, and 275,000 are hospitalized.
  • Most commonly affected age groups are children up to 4 years old, and teens 15 to 19.
  • More than 3 million Americans have long-term need for help in daily tasks because of brain injury.

Sources: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Brain Injury Association of America; WSJ interviews.