Research shows blood tests can detect concussions

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. -- Blood tests help diagnose problems with hearts, liver and kidneys. Now there is a potential game changer when it comes to detecting injuries to brains.

Natalie Tysdal and her 11-year-old daughter, Callie, enjoy a walk in the park in Highlands Ranch, but getting over an injury to Callie’s head two years ago was anything but easy.

“She kicked the ball and it hit me right in the head. I fell down and I blacked out,” Callie said.

Doctors suspected a concussion. But Tysdal wanted a more definitive answer.

“I kept asking, ‘Isn’t there a test you can do? Isn’t there something that will tell us for sure, this is a concussion?’ And at the time, they said, there isn’t anything. We just look for symptoms,” Tysdal said.

Symptoms such as headaches, vomiting and dizziness that can be subtle or delayed was the case for Callie, who didn’t mention the injury to her parents right away.

Now, after 14 years of research in Orlando, Fla., there is a test that can detect concussions up to seven days after an injury.

"Just a simple blood test will tell us if proteins released from the brain after injury are detected in the blood,” said Dr. Linda Papa, lead researcher at Orlando Health.

The study analyzed 600 patients for three years, comparing their CT scans with the blood tests. The outcome was 97 percent accuracy.

“Anything that takes out the guesswork makes you feel a lot better,” Tysdal said.

The Tysdals say the test will help eliminate anguish. Well, at least, most of it. Doctors can use CT scans to diagnose concussions, but doctors limit the use -- especially on children -- because of the exposure to radiation.

Right now, the test is undergoing Federal Drug Administration approval and will be available in the next few years.