Swedish researchers have devised a blood test that could better diagnose traumatic brain injuries such as concussions.
According to a Reuters news report, this discovery could prevent athletes to return to the field when they are in danger of suffering further serious injury.
Researchers say their method can show just an hour after the head injury how severe the concussion is, regardless of whether there is the risk of long-term symptoms.
In contact sports such as football, repeated concussions are common where the brain has not healed completely after the first blow. This type of injury is particularly dangerous.
The Danger of Concussions
We have a growing body of scientific evidence now, which shows that repeated head knocks such as in contact sports can cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition of the brain that can lead to loss of cognitive function, dementia, aggression and depression. Mild concussions often do not lead to loss of consciousness, but those with concussions do experience other symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, trouble concentrating, memory lapses and headaches.
Concussions have been a source of controversy and debate over the last year. Recently, the National Football League agreed to pay $765 million to settle a lawsuit brought by thousands of former players, many suffering from dementia and health problems. The NFL was accused by players of hiding the dangers of brain injury while profiting from it.
Struggles of Brain Injury Victims
While brain injuries caused by contact sports have been in the spotlight lately, a majority of traumatic brain injuries, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are caused by falls, car accidents and acts of violence. Brain injuries result in 52,000 deaths and 275,000 hospitalizations in the United States each year. About 1.3 million people are treated and released from an emergency department for brain injuries.
The costs of treating a brain injury are also staggering. According to the Brain Injury Association of America, average hospital-based acute rehab is about $8,000 a day while the range for post-acute residential care is between $850 and $2,500 per day. Also day treatment programs are about $600 to $1,000 without room or board.
Brain Injury Awareness Month
March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. During this time, it is important to reflect on the significance traumatic brain injuries have on millions of Americans. The impact is felt not only by victims of the injuries, but also family members who take care of them and support them financially. As California personal injury lawyers who represent seriously injured clients and their families, we know and understand the significant impact a catastrophic injury can have on victims and their loved ones. We can only hope that brain injury research makes giant strides in the coming years to help with early diagnosis and prevention.