Researchers at Penn State University recently presented their findings at the Pediatric Academic Society Meeting showing great promise for a new test that uses a bit of saliva to look for markers of concussion in patients.
The test which uses a simple mouth swab, similar to a Q-Tip, will measure for fragments of DNA in the saliva can predict whether concussion symptoms will last for days or weeks giving some idea as to the severity of the concussion as well as allowing for treatment to be quickly given. Positive saliva results could lead to referrals for more complete testing of children.
The researchers say that the swab is tested for the levels of the many microRNSs in the samples. Based on the findings they can predict within 90% accuracy how long symptoms would last, and whether the children would suffer the specific concussion symptoms affecting memory and problem solving.
The advantages of such testing include:
Immediate diagnosis of any suspected concussion, whether there are obvious signs or not
Speed of results
Cost of testing
Researchers are hoping to apply the same tests to adults, although they admit that blood sampling may offer more accurate results, the salvia tests are highly portable, cheap and easy to administer.
The initial test group included 50 concussion patients aged 7-18. It is estimated that 2 million children suffer concussion every year in America, however the diagnosis of the concussions can be challenging. Doctors know that there are likely as many concussions that go undiagnosed as there are diagnosed ones.