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Could key to IDing disabling brain injury be in our blood?

Experts in the medical field acknowledge that one of the most challenging public health issues we currently face is that presented by traumatic brain injury. Even though there is data collected from decades of research, doctors' ability to accurately diagnose a disabling brain injury and provide adequate treatments often come up short.

Very often traumatic brain injuries leave patients permanently disabled. The effects are not only devastating for the sufferers, but for their caregivers, too. Social Security disability may be obtained if all the appropriate conditions have been met and documented properly. Working with an attorney can help with the process.

Recently a story appeared in the Los Angeles Times that may offer some hope is on the horizon in terms of diagnosing brain trauma. Researchers from a number of centers around the country say they have succeeded in showing that an elevated presence of a particular blood protein could indicate when a blow to the head has been minor or has caused more major trauma.

The protein goes by the name SNTF. It's released into the blood when neurons in the brain begin to degenerate. Scientists have known that SNTF is easily detected in patients who have suffered an ischemic stroke or major brain trauma. But what the authors of the new study say they have been able to do is show that lower levels of SNTF may provide a clue that a knock to the head has done damage that may require months of recovery.

The one issue the researchers acknowledge with their findings is that the test group for the research was small -- only about 30 individuals. But what they found was that brain trauma victims who suffered cognitive problems for up to three months also showed elevated levels of SNTF.

The scientists say their findings will need to be studied in much larger populations before any solid conclusions about this possible diagnostic tool can be drawn. 

Source: LATimes.com, “Could a blood test detect concussion with lasting disability?,” Melissa Healy, Nov. 20, 2013.  

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