Research: Blood reveals concussions

Research: Blood reveals concussions

Most concussions are diagnosed today based on symptoms. However, because they can vary a great deal, they can make it difficult to make a definitive diagnosis. Now researchers have found special proteins in the blood, which may be able to help doctors along the way.

A blow to the head often causes double damage, as the brain moves and hits the skull in two places.
5

Signal substances trigger explosion
At the same time, the cell secretes large amounts of the signal substance glutamate, which gives rise to an explosion of nerve signals in the neighboring cells.

Concussion reduces IQ 

There are good reasons to be afraid of one's head because a concussion can have serious and long-lasting consequences for intelligence.

Roger Wood from the University of Wales Swansea in the United Kingdom in 2006 examined how intelligence was affected 16 years after a concussion. The researcher followed 74 patients and discovered that their intelligence ratio had, on average, decreased by seven points. Even in patients with a mild concussion, in whom the immediate symptoms lasted less than 14 days, there was a marked decrease in IQ of an average of five points. The study also showed that children and women were the most vulnerable and experienced the greatest decrease in intelligence after a concussion.

A case with the bike, a whiplash injury in the car or a proper knock from a cupboard door or a ball.

Concussions can occur in all sorts of situations when the head is subjected to a severe shock, and therefore the world’s hospitals treat millions of shaken brains annually.

But even though the condition is common, it is not always easy to make the diagnosis.

Most of the concussions are diagnosed based on the patient’s medical history and symptoms. However, the symptoms can vary in number and severity, depending on the person and the severity of the injury, which can make the doctor’s job difficult to diagnose.

Now, US researchers have found three proteins in the blood, which may serve as biological benchmarks, so-called biomarkers, and help measure concussions in patients.

Injured athletes showed elevated levels

Athletes who practice contact sports, such as American football, rugby, and boxing, are at high risk of being hit by concussions and many of the annual cases also come from a violent hit during a sports match.

The researchers therefore based on sports-related concussions and examined 264 athletes who have previously had concussions.

Based on blood tests before and after their concussions, the researchers could conclude that, after their injury, they received elevated levels of three special proteins.

The researchers also examined athletes in a control group who had not had concussions and who either practiced contact sports or a sport that did not require close contact. In the control group, there were no elevated levels of the three proteins.

Concussion causes double damage

A blow to the head often causes double damage, as the brain moves and hits the skull in two places.

1

First point of contact.
The brain lies in a protective fluid. In a blow to the head, it first hits the inside of the skull at the point of contact.

2

Second point of contact
Thereafter, the stroke can cause the brain to be thrown back, so that it also strikes the opposite side of the skull.

3

Chemical chaos paralyzes the brain
A concussion triggers an explosion of ions that flow into and out of the nerve cells and drain them of energy, so that the brain does not function optimally for the next few weeks.

4

Ions flow into and out of the nerve cells
The blow turns to the nerve cells so that the cell membranes are destroyed. The damaged nerve cells start to leak and large quantities of potassium ions flow out of the cell, while calcium ions flow.

Further research is necessary

The three proteins that are noticed are all known to be involved when cells in the nervous system have been damaged.

The protein GFAP is released when damage is caused to the supporting cells of the nervous system, the so-called glial cells, Ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase-L1 signaling damage to the nerve cells, while the tau protein is a sign that the branches of the nerve cells, the axons, are damaged. They have all been investigated in previous research as possible biomarkers in connection with more severe brain injuries.

But even though much points to the fact that the three proteins are related to concussions, it will take a while before they can be used as biomarkers in practice.

The researchers behind the study emphasize that they do not yet know how fast they can search for the proteins and in what combination they best find concussion.

In addition, the majority of athletes were men, which is why it is also necessary to do similar studies with women before any definitive conclusions can be drawn.

6

Inflammation stresses the brain
To secrete toxic cytokines, which can stress the cells so much that some of them die. At the same time, the cells form so-called free radicals, which can cause further damage to the cells.

Concussion reduces IQ by about seven points

There are good reasons to be afraid of one’s head because a concussion can have serious and long-lasting consequences for intelligence.

Roger Wood from the University of Wales Swansea in the United Kingdom in 2006 examined how intelligence was affected 16 years after a concussion.

The researcher followed 74 patients and discovered that their intelligence ratio had, on average, decreased by seven points. Even in patients with a mild concussion, in whom the immediate symptoms lasted less than 14 days, there was a marked decrease in IQ of an average of five points.

The study also showed that children and women were the most vulnerable and experienced the greatest decrease in intelligence after a concussion.

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