Researchers have discovered five genetic molecules called microRNAs, found in the blood, spinal fluid and saliva, which were able to predict with 85 percent accuracy which test subjects would still be showing symptoms of concussion one month later. According to the NY Daily News, standard clinical surveys are only 65 percent accurate.
The new study was published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, detailing results from 52 test subjects between the ages of seven and 21.
While most concussion patients show symptoms for only a few days, researchers say up to 25 percent of children will have long-term symptoms, lasting up to four months. The new test is designed to determine ahead of time which patients will have long-term symptoms.
It can also help diagnose a concussion in patients who do not exhibit obvious signs.
“Fortunately, the technology required to measure saliva RNA is already employed in medicine; we use it to check patients for upper respiratory viruses in our hospitals and clinics every day,” said Dr. Steve Hicks, the study’s senior author. “Modifying this approach for patients with concussions could potentially provide a rapid, objective tool for managing brain injury.”
Hicks and his team hope to continue testing, this time moving on to adult test subjects. "Because the markers we identified in this study are not correlated with patient age, we are hopeful they may be applied in adult populations, as well," he said.
Following more successful testing, microRNA concussion testing may be available to the general public within one to two years.