A major problem in diagnosing and treating concussions is that the clinical guidelines focus on adults even though nearly three million of the people who have concussions in the US are children. The American Academy of Pediatrics, wrote in 2017, that a simple saliva test may now help doctors and parents understand more about childhood concussions which can cause fatigue, headache, and other physical and learning difficulties.
At a 2107 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, a study was presented titled “Peripheral microRNA patterns predict prolonged concussion symptoms in pediatric patients.” MicroRNA is short for Micro ribonucleic acid. MicroRNA are molecules that help regulate the production of protein. They are usually found in a person’s cells.
Prior studies had shown that children with mild concussions had altered levels of MicroRNA (miRNA). Prior studies also showed that patients with mild concussions had miRNA changes in their cerebrospinal fluid which protects the brain and the spinal cord.
How the study was conducted
The clinical study was performed at the Penn State College of Medicine.
- 50 students with a mild TBI who were between 7 and 18 years-of-age were studied.
- The researchers collected spit samples and tested them for MicroRNA levels.
- The researches also used the parent and child Sports Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT-3) to evaluate the child’s concussion’s symptoms. SCAT-3 is a standardized concussion evaluation test.
- The samples and SCAT-3 test were conducted two weeks after the injury date and four-weeks post-concussion.
The findings of the spit saliva study
Twenty-nine (29) students were found to have prolonged concussion symptoms. They showed higher scores for fatigue headaches, and lack of focus. The lead author, Dr. Steven Hicks, of the clinical study found that the miRNA levels in the spit saliva were much better indicators that children would have prolonged concussions (more than four weeks) than the SCAT-3 tests. Specifically, Dr. Hicks sad that the SCAT-3 test was 70% accurate while the saliva test was nearly 90% accurate. Dr. Hicks was confident that the saliva test would be an effective non-invasive test for helping diagnose long-term childhood concussions in future patients.
At Rocky McElhaney Law Firm, we understand how devastating traumatic brain injuries and concussions are. We work to hold the responsible parties liable. We also work with your doctors so that you or your loved can get the best medical care possible. Residents of Nashville, Hendersonville and Knoxville, and neighboring areas should call our lawyers at 615-246-5549 or use our contact form. We’re ready to guide you through this extremely difficult time.