People presenting with mild to severe head injuries account for thousands of visits to hospital emergency rooms and urgent care centers each year. Until an innovative blood test arrived on the scene, medical personnel had to rely on traditional imaging methods such as computerized tomography scans and magnetic resonance imaging to determine the extent of injury. The scans are limited in their ability to detect certain types of damage, though, and are generally used to identify intracranial bleeding.
Recently, medical researchers have identified a certain protein in the brain that plays an active role in neural function. The protein, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, has been shown to be a reliable indicator of the extent of brain injury post-trauma. Patients who suffered head injuries had blood tests performed within 24 hours of their accidents, and their results were compared with a healthy control group. The results suggested that decreases in BDNF, ranging from 60 to 90 percent of the norm, coincided with the extent of injury.
It is hopeful that the new test will be a reliable means for physicians, physical therapists and other health care professional for determining the extent of brain damage, appropriate courses of treatment and for predicting outcomes. The diagnostic tool may also be useful for tracking patient progress during the rehabilitation phase.
The effects of brain injuries on patients and their families can result in devastating physical and financial damages. People who have incurred head injuries resulting from a car accident or other mishap that occurred due to the negligence of another party may be able to receive restitution. A personal injury attorney may be able to help clients receive compensation for their losses by negotiating with the other party and reaching a settlement or through litigation.