Researchers at UBC Okanagan are testing a new technique to diagnose concussions.
Focusing on sports-related concussions, they’ve used ultrasound equipment to measure the speed of brain blood flow.
The blood flow response to increased brain activity in the brains of 179 junior-level athletes was measured before the athletic season.
Athletes who sustained concussions during the season, completed the testing again at three time points after injury.
Researchers found a clear link between the brain injury and changes to the brain’s blood flow response that were related to how long the athletes were sidelined from competition.
“Diagnosing concussions relies heavily on patients reporting their symptoms. While there are other tests that may be used to help clinicians make a diagnosis, they can be extremely subjective, inaccurate and, frankly, easy to manipulate,” says study lead author and UBC Okanagan medical student and PhD candidate Alexander (Sandy) Wright.
Wright says “Because concussions can’t be seen on standard brain imaging, the holy grail in the concussion world has been to devise a test that can objectively say whether or not a patient has suffered a mild brain injury.”
But Wright is quick to point out that sports-related concussions are extremely complex and that a single diagnostic tool-the Holy Grail-is unlikely.
He suggests instead that his technique may be just one among a battery of tests that athletes may one day have access to.
Wright says that this technique may one day help determine what degree and what type of concussion an athlete may have.
Ideally, he says, researchers will assemble a series of tests that will help objectively diagnose the injury and also provide some prognostic value and give clinicians an idea of how long brain healing might take