Orlando doctor's concussion blood test cleared by FDA

Test can show concussions hours after injury

By Kirstin O’Connor - Reporter/Anchor

ORLANDO, Fla. - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the first blood test to diagnose concussions.

"If somebody you know continues to have symptoms and still has a negative CT, we can say, 'Look, we know that you've had an injury. We can show you through a blood test,'" Dr. Linda Papa, the director of clinical research at Orlando Regional Medical Center, said.

Papa and a team of researchers have been working on the blood test for years and hope it will help patients get treatment for concussions more quickly.

"A mild concussion may not be as mild as we think," Papa said. "Just like any part of the body that gets injured, there has to be healing that has to take place, and if you're healing and then you have another injury, that could make things a lot worse."

The Brain Trauma Indicator test measures two biomarkers: proteins known as UCH-L1 and GFAP, which are released upon injury to the brain and pass through the blood-brain barrier. Elevated levels of the proteins can be detected within 15 to 20 minutes of injury. The test can be taken within 12 hours of injury and results can be obtained within three or four hours.

Patients can get diagnosed with a concussion based on their symptoms or with a CT scan. As the FDA report points out, the new blood test could also help reduce costs associated with CT scans. 
Compared with a CT scan, the blood test was 97.5 percent as effective in detecting concussion and 99.6 percent effective in ruling out concussion.

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