Research finds TBI could be detected earlier

Inflammatory biomarkers that indicate whether the brain has suffered injury have been identified by researchers at the University of Birmingham.

The team hopes the discovery can be used to develop a test that can be used on the side of a sports pitch or by paramedics to detect brain injury at the scene of an incident. Dr Lisa Hill, of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham, said: “Early and correct diagnosis of traumatic brain injury is one of the most challenging aspects facing clinicians. Being able to detect compounds in the blood which help to determine how severe a brain injury is would be of great benefit to patients and aid in their treatment.”  Hill said that TBI is the leading cause of death and disability among young adults and that, according to the World Health Organization, by 2020 TBI will become the world’s leading cause of neurological disability across all age groups. The discovery was found by taking blood samples from 30 injured patients within the first hour of injury prior to the patient arriving at hospital. Samples were taken again at various intervals after and the blood was screened for inflammatory biomarkers that correlated with the severity of the injury. Dr Valentina Di Pietro, also on the research team, said: "Early and objective pre-hospital detection of TBI would support clinical decision making and the correct triage of major trauma. “Moreover, the correct diagnosis of TBI, which is one of hardest diagnosis to make in medicine, would allow clinicians to implement strategies to reduce secondary brain injury at early stage, for example, by optimising blood and oxygen delivery to the brain and avoiding manoeuvres that could potentially increase intracranial pressure. “In addition, this has potential implications for drug development, as novel compounds could be given immediately after injury and potentially commenced at the roadside, if there was sufficient confidence in the diagnosis of TBI.”  Currently, no reliable biomarkers exist to help diagnose the severity of TBI to identify patients who are at risk of developing secondary injuries that impair function, damage other brain structures and promote further cell death.  The study was published in Scientific Reports and funded by the National Institute for Health Research Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre. Research continues.
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