A tiny molecule in your spit may help diagnose concussions more accurately
Concussions usually occur after a blow to the head - for example, during sports or a car accident. They can result in such symptoms as headache, nausea, confusion, amnesia or lack of consciousness.fitness Updated: Nov 25, 2017 15:05 IST
Tiny molecules in saliva may help diagnose and predict the duration of concussions in children, according to a new study. Concussions usually occur after a blow to the head - for example, during sports or a car accident. They can result in such symptoms as headache, nausea, confusion, amnesia or lack of consciousness.
Researchers measured the levels of microRNAs - tiny snippets of non coding RNA - in the saliva of concussion patients. They found that the presence of certain microRNAs in saliva was able to better identify concussions and more accurately predict the length of concussion symptoms than relying solely on patient surveys.
Steven Hicks from the Pennsylvania State University in the US said the findings, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, could result in a more fact-based way to diagnose and treat concussion patients.
“There’s been a big push recently to find more objective markers that a concussion has occurred, instead of relying simply on patient surveys,” Hicks said. “Previous research has focused on proteins, but this approach is limited because proteins have a hard time crossing the blood-brain barrier. What’s novel about this study is we looked at microRNAs instead of proteins, and we decided to look in saliva rather than blood,” he said.
While most concussions clear up within two weeks, about one-third of patients will experience symptoms longer.
Patients are usually advised to rest and stay away from such physical activity as sports or gym class until their symptoms subside. Hicks said that while it is important to give the brain enough time to heal, it is difficult to accurately predict how long patients should rest.
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