Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011, Cleveland: Researchers at Cleveland Clinic have received a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue studying the effectiveness of a blood test that conclusively identifies concussions in college football players.
The test using blood samples taken before and after a game searches for a biomarker known as S100B, which signifies brain damage if found in elevated levels in an athlete's blood.
Damir Janigro, Ph.D., and Nicola Marchi, Ph.D., both of Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute, are the lead researchers on this study, in collaboration with Jeffrey Bazarian, M.D., M.P.H., of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Concussions are the leading cause of brain damage in sports, particularly in football. Estimates suggest that up to 40 percent of football players experience a concussion annually, the majority of these going unreported. Overall, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 3.8 million Americans suffer concussions each year.
"The current tools and technology available to identify and diagnose concussions are no longer adequate to handle the public health epidemic that concussions have become," said Janigro, the study's lead researcher. "As these injuries continue to occur in our athletes, we need to discover solutions for faster, more efficient diagnosis, which is what we expect this blood test to do."
Identifying concussions is difficult. Currently, concussion diagnosis relies on subjective cognitive/behavioral tests, as well as CT scans or MRIs, both of which cost thousands of dollars. A blood test will be much less expensive (about $20) and could be performed anywhere, such as locker rooms or doctors' offices. More importantly, though, the blood test will offer a yes-or-no determination of whether an athlete requires medical intervention as a result of in-game collisio
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