Blood Test IDs Concussion Patients Likely to Have Prolonged Symptoms

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But more work needed before NfL can be used routinely in TBI.

Serum neurofilament light (NfL) chain predicted concussion symptom duration and outperformed other blood tests in distinguishing mild, moderate, and severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) even 5 years after injury, a pair of studies in Neurology showed.

“In both of our studies, the same idea came through: neurofilament light chain shows great promise as a biomarker in the blood,” study author Pashtun Shahim, MD, PhD, of the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Marylandsaid in a statement.

“This is notable because the test may help us identify people whose concussions might give them debilitating symptoms for years after the injury. And that may help doctors treat their patients more specifically for the type of concussion they have,” he added.

“Currently, there is no validated biomarker that can reliably detect the subtle signs of brain injury months to years after a traumatic brain injury,” Shahim pointed out. “Our study shows that the amount of serum NfL was higher even at 5 years after a single traumatic brain injury, while the other proteins we measured in this study, although detectable in blood, were not high enough to distinguish patients from controls.”

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