Concussions are a form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that are extremely serious and that can be extremely difficult to diagnose accurately from the outset. Concussions are common to many kinds of accidents, including car accidents, pedestrian accidents, slip and fall accidents, and much more. Victims of concussions and other kinds of TBIs fare much better when their injuries are diagnosed and treated early, but these injuries are notoriously difficult to pinpoint in their early stages. Fortunately, there are new diagnostic tools available and even more on the horizon that are helping to remedy this dangerous situation.
Concussions often go undetected because the basic diagnostic tools used to assess these injuries are based on subjective information that can easily be skewed. Because early detection is closely associated with improved prognosis, having effective testing mechanisms in place is critical. Generally, emergency medical professionals and attending doctors have nothing more to go on than measuring the victim’s cognitive abilities, but they have no baseline with which to compare the information they obtain. While there are a variety of symptoms that are closely associated with TBIs, they are not highly specific and/or highly accurate.
Promising Blood Test
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the very first blood test that is intended to detect mild TBIs. In essence, the test searches for a pair of biomarkers that are released by the victim's bloodstream within 12 hours of incurring a TBI. While the test represents important progress, it is only approved for adults, and the 12-hour delay represents critical hours in which the patient remains undiagnosed.
Hope in the Form of an Eye Test
In 2019, the FDA approved the only noninvasive and baseline-free diagnostic test for TBIs. This four-minute eye test can easily be used in emergency rooms across the nation, and it provides an accurate representation of the patient’s ability to control his or her eye movements (closely associated with TBIs). The basics include:
- The patient is asked to relax.
- The patient watches a short film or video playing inside the testing device.
- The testing device records the patient’s eye movements and provides objective evidence related to whether or not the viewer has a concussion.
Having objective information related to potential concussions can help medical facilities avoid sending patients home when they actually require medical treatment for an elusive concussion.