Concussions in kids are mostly diagnosed by symptoms which are typically observed through vomiting, blurred vision, headaches or loss of consciousness. But imagine a portable device that does not only identify concussions in children but also tells you the severity of the problem. Well, researchers at Orlando Health have developed a blood test that diagnoses even the most subtle signs of a concussion in children with 94 percent accuracy.

“This simple blood test was nearly as accurate as a state-of-the-art CT scan,” said Linda Papa, an emergency medicine physician and lead author of the study, in a news release.

In the study published in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine, Papa and her team enrolled 257 children, 197 of whom had blunt head trauma. Researchers performed computed tomography scans (CT scans) of 152 patients and compared the results of the scans with results from the blood tests. As expected, the CT scans identified the presence of traumatic brain injuries 94 percent of the time, they also identified the severity of the injury by measuring a biomarker – known as called glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) – released when brain cells are injured.

She thinks of developing mobile devices that could diagnose concussions on the spot like the devices diabetics use and researchers hope it will be commercially available within the next 5 years.

Hospitals treat nearly a quarter of a million children a year for traumatic brain injuries like concussions. That’s an average of nearly 700 children a every day.

“The idea is to get a point-of-care test that could be used on the field, to help the coaches, the trainers and the athletic directors, make a decision then and there about whether the child should go back to play. If we could find a simple test that takes the guess-work out of diagnosing these kids, that would completely change the way we approach concussions and would certainly give parents greater peace of mind,” Papa concluded.

[Hat Tip: Orlando Medical Regional Center, Academic Emergency Medicine – Performance of Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein in Detecting Traumatic Intracranial Lesions on Computed Tomography in Children and Youth With Mild Head Trauma | Image via]