On playing fields across the country, nervous trainers stand on the sidelines, hoping none of their players will sustain a head injury. After years of denial, organizations such as the National Football League are finally beginning to recognize the dangers of concussion. Although awareness of the issue has increased enormously, diagnosis remains difficult, relying exclusively on players’ subjective reports of symptoms such as blurred vision, dizziness, headache and nausea.
At least two life sciences companies are now developing blood tests that can detect concussion more reliably and objectively, and a recent studysuggests such tests may eventually be game-changers. “The biggest problem is that the clinical criteria for diagnosing concussion are very vague,” says Henrik Zetterberg, a professor of neurochemistry at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. “If someone hits their head and doesn’t feel 100 percent well afterwards, that can fulfill the criteria—it’s not much stricter than that.” A blood test that diagnoses concussion accurately and reliably would, therefore, be a valuable aid to sports teams—and to medicine in general.
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