Blood Biomarker Linked to Concussions in Hockey Players
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that a blood biomarker test has been found to be successful in confirming concussions in professional hockey players. The study followed 288 Swedish professional hockey players during the 2012-2013 hockey season. Every player participated in preseason concussion assessment measurement testing. Forty-seven members, representing 2 of the 12 teams in the league, provided blood samples prior to the start of the season. From these samples, lab professionals extracted baseline measurements of the Total Tau (T-Tau) enzyme, the S-100 calcium binding protein B (S-100B), and concentrations of neuron-specific enolase (NSE).
Thirty five players experienced concussions during the study period, 28 of this group provided blood samples at hours 1, 12, 36 and 144 after their concussions. Measures of T-Tau and S-100B at their highest levels one hour after a Post Concussion Event (PCE) were compared to each of the 28 player’s baseline numbers. The NSE comparisons showed no significant changes. T-Tau levels reported a delayed increase in T-Tau between 12 and 36 hours after the concussion and remained elevated at 144 hours after the PCE. The levels of S-100B tended to decline over the first 12 hours, with no delayed elevations of S-100B and NSE at 12 and 36 hours post concussions. The study also reported a correlation in the levels of T-Tau at one hour in predicting when a player was ready to return to play. There were higher levels of T-Tau noted in players who experienced loss of consciousness and/or did not return to play greater than 10 days after their concussion.
The axonal and astroglial injuries regularly diagnosed with post concussion injuries in hockey players are also prevalent in concussions experienced by athletes participating in football, soccer, boxing and all other contact sports. One of the next questions may be, do T-Tau baseline and post-concussion levels change by sport (due to training), age and gender? In five months most high school, college, and professional football teams will be getting ready to start their 2014 seasons. Most programs require a physical examination by a qualified physician to play. How hard would it be to include a blood test for a baseline T-Tau biomarker? Just think of the number of sample studies it would produce in only 6 months after that baseline.
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