According to the National Brain Injury Association, more than 1.4 million Americans suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI) every year. Although 70 percent of those cases are mild, that leaves 420,000 moderate to serious injuries. Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are prone to concussions from roadside bombs, but civilians face dangers as well. Falls, abuse, car accidents and sports are all common causes of brain injury. If only there was a way to identify TBI accurately, more patients might be spared permanent damage.
Because the symptoms of brain injury can vary wildly and sometimes be nonexistent for days or weeks, a test to make the injuries easy to diagnose would go a long way in helping injured patients heal completely and diminish the chances of permanent damage. Such a test has long been sought.
Biomarker Research for TBI
In 2008, one group of researchers at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) tried to identify biomarkers by studying infants in emergency departments. This research resulted in some tests that showed promise, but were unable to show brain injury in all cases where it occurred.
Research in 2009 took TBI diagnosis a step further looking at a different set of biomarkers with better success. The Duke University study reported 92 percent accuracy in identifying mild TBI. Now a new study promises to predict TBI simply and accurately.
The New Brain Injury Blood Test
USA Today reports that Army researchers, in conjunction with Florida’s Banyan Biomarkers, developed a blood test that can identify protein markers left in the blood following a brain injury. The test won’t be available until approved by the FDA, which can only happen after clinical trials, which will take place through 2013. Until studies are completed on this new test, which claims to have accurately found TBI in 34 patients, we won’t know how well it really works.
Concerns the Research May be Flawed
Because of the uncertain nature of brain injuries when compared with symptoms, some researchers express concern that the results of the Army’s findings might be flawed. The researchers have been looking only at patients admitted to hospitals. Until the new method is tested in the field, where injured individuals do not seek treatment, the results will be flawed.
Always Report Your Symptoms
For now, doctors must rely on patients to report their symptoms accurately. If the brain is not given adequate time to recover after an injury, a subsequent concussion could lead to permanent brain damage. For this reason, patients should not ignore headaches and dizziness, even if they don’t begin until days or weeks after the injury.
If you or someone you loves suffers from brain injury, you may have a claim for damages. Contact our office to learn your rights and options when it comes to living with such a debilitating injury. You may be able to recover the cost of medical treatment and other expenses.