Traumatic brain injury affects almost 2 million people each year. While millions live with the effects of TBI, hundreds of thousands of people go undiagnosed every year. Unfortunately, this is an effect of the current state of medical research. At the moment, the most common test for a mild traumatic brain injury (concussion) is a simple eye-tracking test that most healthcare providers administer with an extremely low-tech tool; the nearest available pen.
A history of failure
Over the years, researchers have experimented with computed axial tomography (CAT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and functional MRI (fMRI) scans, and even ultrasounds and x-rays to get an accurate picture of the brain after an injury. Each method has its drawbacks and benefits, but all are expensive and none of them has the advantage of detecting a brain injury 100% of the time. Now, researchers are discovering that a low-cost blood test might be the best way to detect a brain injury.
“Biomarker S100β is the major calcium-binding protein in astrocytes and is a marker of astrocyte injury or death. Because S100β is released after a brain injury, serum S100β levels could theoretically serve as a marker of injury. There have been several studies that have correlated serum S100β level with abnormalities on head CT, indicating that use of this biomarker could reduce the number of head CTs performed by 30%. MRI abnormalities have also been correlated with elevated serum S100β levels. In addition, S100β may be helpful in predicting which patients will suffer from prolonged post-concussive symptoms—such as headache, sleep disturbances, and mood changes—following mild TBI.”
The best answers are sometimes the simplest
That’s a little complicated, but the upshot is that the last few decades of research have all found one common element in TBI victims; a protein that is released when the brain is injured. While this method of evaluation is still under scrutiny and has yet to be validated for diagnostic use, it’s the first result that offers a concrete diagnosis without the expense of complicated diagnostic and imaging tools.
We anxiously await the day when brain injuries are as easily treatable as a broken bone, but those are not the times we live in. Today, just learning the extent of a TBI can take up to a year; treatment and therapy can last a lifetime, and a full recovery is not a guarantee. Traumatic brain injuries change lives in an instant, and affect families for a lifetime. The costs can pile up quickly, and the period just after a TBI diagnosis can be a very scary and confusing time for victims and their families.
When your family is affected by a TBI, the experienced Nashville brain injury attorneys at the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm can evaluate your case and help get you the compensation you need to take care of your family. Our experienced attorneys fight for you and can help you get the answers you need. For a free consultation, call 615.246.5549, visit our offices in Nashville, Gallatin or Knoxville, or contact us today.