‘Sniff test’ could predict brain injury recovery

New research reveals a link between a patient’s ability to smell and their chance of recovery following a severe brain injury.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have trialled a new ‘sniff test’ which can help medical professionals determine treatment for patients who have minimal consciousness following a brain injury. Patients were presented with smells including rotten fish and shampoo, with their reactions monitored through a nasal tube. The brain automatically changes the way we sniff in response to different smells, with shorter and shallower breaths for unpleasant smells. Results published in the journal Nature revealed all the patients who reacted to the sniff test went on to regain consciousness. "The accuracy of the sniff test is remarkable – I hope it will help in the treatment of severely brain injured patients around the world," said Dr Anat Arzi, a researcher in the University of Cambridge's Department of Psychology and the Weizmann Institute of Science Israel, who led the study.
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