New research aims to instantaneously detect first signs of a concussion and brain injury during “Golden Hour”

26 Sep 2017 | Comment


As with any accident, the first few moments following it are unnerving, filled with fear and anxiety.

If it is you that has suffered injury, and if you are conscious and alert, you may be wondering what you should do next.  If you are with a loved one, your first concern may be for their safety.

Depending upon the severity of the injury, the treatment you seek and receive immediately following the accident can determine your likelihood of recovery.  The critical one hour period of time after a traumatic brain injury is referred to as the “golden hour” because the treatment you receive during this critical timeframe determines not only your chances of recovery, but whether you could live, die or suffer long term disability.

Research currently being undertaken by a team led by Professor Tony Belli at the University of Birmingham is aiming to find the very first signs of a concussion and brain injury so that treatment can begin within the first critical hour after brain trauma.

The University of Birmingham recently made a significant breakthrough after identifying molecules which can be found in saliva that act as biomarkers.

If these biomarkers are found reliable, work will continue with industrial partners with the hope to have a device available within the next two years that will instantaneously diagnose concussion – a major step forward for both sport and medicine.

This is why the Aviva Premiership Rugby and Greene King IPA Championship are to take part in a major study led by the University of Birmingham to develop a pitch side test to diagnose concussion and brain injury.

The study being carried out in collaboration with the Rugby Football Union (RFU), Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Players Association will run throughout the 2017/18 season and is the biggest of its kind to take place in the history of UK sport.

The team at Birmingham University College led by neurosurgeon, Professor Tony Belli, have spent the last nine years carrying out research which has led to the development of the test that measures biomarkers present in the saliva and urine of players.

The test, if validated could be done on a handheld device which is currently under development.  Importantly this test also has a potential to be used more widely by front line medics in the NHS and the military to improve diagnosis and treatment within the first critical hour after brain trauma commonly referred to as the golden hour.

This is hopefully a real breakthrough in the early and accurate diagnosis of concussion and brain injury, which will lead to individuals being able to make important choices earlier especially in relation to seeking early rehabilitation. We are fully behind this piece of research and will follow with interest the study which is taking place this season in the Aviva Premiership and Greene King IPA Championships. This is a project that has the potential to make a very significant impact on the treatment of brain injury in this country and worldwide.

There is currently no reliable or appropriate biomarker or objective test for the diagnosis of concussion and this lack of objectivity is the biggest challenge facing medical professionals in currently dealing with this type of injury.

For more information visit the Brain Injury page.

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