A new blood test that could help doctors diagnose traumatic brain injuries such as concussions in adult patients gained approval on Wednesday from the Food and Drug Administration.
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The FDA’s ruling allows Banyan Biomarkers, a biotech company, to begin marketing for the blood test.
While the blood test cannot currently detect concussions conclusively, it does allow doctors to scan brain cells for proteins that indicate brain bleeding and other neurological injuries after a blow to the head, the Associated Press reported.
“A blood-testing option for the evaluation of [mild traumatic brain injury]/concussion not only provides health care professionals with a new tool, but also sets the stage for a more modernized standard of care for testing of suspected cases,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a press release.
Traumatic brain injuries contributed to about 2.8 million emergency room visits and nearly 50,000 deaths in 2013, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Separately, the increase of concussions is an ongoing issue in professional sports. The NFL and other sports leagues have earmarked millions of dollars to study the problem.
The blood test for concussions and other traumatic brain injuries will initially be used in emergency rooms and could eventually be used to treat possible head injury victims in sports and the military, the AP reported. Use of the blood tests could begin as soon as this year.
At present, medical professional use Cat scans, which expose patients to radiation, to test for concussions and other brain injuries.