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Could Concussions Be Diagnosed With A Simple Blood Test?


It’s a familiar scene, and one that plays out on sidelines across the country: An athlete takes a knock to the head and stumbles woozily to the sideline. A concerned trainer or coach trots over and begins asking questions. “What day is it?” “How many fingers am I holding up?” “Who was the last person to score?”

Of course, in this era of heightened concussion awareness, procedures for addressing possible head injuries have tightened up a bit. And yet, concussion diagnosis is still largely based on subjective measures that rely heavily upon athletes to report their symptoms.

recent study out of the National Institutes of Health shows a new way forward, however. Researchers supported by the National Institute of Nursing Research have found that measuring a particular blood protein could indicate just how long an athlete needs to recover from a concussion. The protein, known as tau, serves as a stabilizing agent in cell structures, but it’s valuable to concussion scientists because it can serve as a biomarker: It acts as a signal that something is wrong and can also reveal the extent of the damage.

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