New blood test may detect concussions


ST. LOUIS – Doctors are examining a brand-new development in the medical world that is able to detect a concussion without the traditional CT scan.

A portable rapid blood test to detect a concussion in about 15 minutes. The FDA has approved the test developed by Abbott Laboratories.

“This test is completely unique. It’s absolutely life changing technology. We’ve never had this before,” said Dr. Beth McQuiston, medical director for Abbott Laboratories

In professional, amateur, and school sports there has been a growing concern about traumatic brain injury.

“The brain gets injured, but you can’t see that. It’s an invisible injury so what this test is doing is making the invisible visible,” McQuiston said.

It took more than 130 scientists nearly seven years to develop looking inside the veins for evidence of a brain injury.

“Well right now, we have blood tests for the heart, the kidney, the liver, every organ you can think of, except for the brain,” McQuiston said.

McQuiston said markers in the blood indicate damage. Specific proteins are released from the brain after an injury. Testing a few drops of blood and 15 minutes later you have the answer on whether a concussion occurred.

“If the levels of these brain proteins are at a certain level instead of them being here…that means that something has happened, and that damage has occurred,” he said. “On the other hand, they come into the emergency department and their levels are very low, what that can do is give the clinician and the patient peace of mind knowing that they don’t need a head CT and they can go home.”

The idea is to give doctors the option to rule out a concussion without the need for a CT scan.

Right now, the rapid screening tool is for use in hospitals and clinics. Abbott Laboratories says hospitals in the St. Louis area should have the test soon and then the hope is to distribute it to urgent care centers and school sports teams.

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