Blood Tests Prove Accurate in Identifying Patients with Post-Concussion Syndrome

Tests May Aid Military and Athletes in Treating Serious Brain Injuries

ATLANTA – September 19, 2017 – A recently released study from a team led by Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM)’s Neuroscience Institute and Department of Medicine discovered a new way to test patients for concussions. The article “Assessing the accuracy of blood RNA profiles to identify patients with post-concussion syndrome: A pilot study in a military patient population,” which was published in the September edition of PLOS One, explains how long-term concussions could potentially be diagnosed through blood tests. This form of testing proves to be more accurate and allows for better treatment of the potentially serious brain injury in members of the military, athletes, and others.

“The way they currently diagnose concussions is that they have to do what’s called a neuropsychological assessment, which are these psychological tests to determine whether you have memory problems, whether you have sleep problems. It’s not very exact science. It’s quite subjective,” said lead researcher Robert Meller, D.Phil., and associate professor at MSM’s Neuroscience Institute. “Patients can over-exaggerate or under-report symptoms. It’s very difficult to get a clear picture of what’s going on with a patient.”

Dr. Meller says the new approach will help eliminate the issues with self-reporting and help patients get the treatment they need.

“You can imagine for sports, this is quite useful,” said Dr. Meller. “If you’re a sports player, you don’t want to admit you’ve been hurt because you’ll lose your position on the team, which could have a great impact on your future. So, they typically underplay their symptoms.”

Dr. Meller says military members often do the same, not wanting to abandon their units. However, those who do not accurately report brain injuries could be putting themselves at greater risk for damage down the road.

The study examined military patients from Fort Gordon who had been clinically diagnosed with chronic concussion, as well as a control group of those with no documented history of concussion. The blood tests were able to accurately diagnose post-concussion syndrome patients 86 percent of the time.

In addition to Dr. Meller, the team from MSM on this study included Jimmaline Hardy, Ph.D., Andrea Pearson, Dawn McGuire, M.D., Roger Simon, M.D., Scott Mooney, Ph.D., and Daniel Correa, M.D., from the Neuroscience & Rehabilitation Center at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Fort Gordon, GA, also contributed.


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