Swedish researchers are investigating whether specific proteins can be used as biomarkers in concussion severity, part of the Holy Grail of sorts in the medicine of concussions.
Basing their study on the fact that neuron-specific enolase, S-100 calcium binding protein B, neurofilament light and total tau biomarkers have been shown to increase among boxers in correlation with the number of concussions they have been dealt, Swedish researchers sought to determine whether these same biomarkers might be used effectively in a diagnostic test for concussions.
A total of 288 players from the Swedish Hockey League participated. Researchers measured the post-concussion levels of these proteins in players and used as a control group a set of players whose hockey season had yet to begin. A total of 28 players experienced a concussion between September 2012 and January 2013, the study period.
Blood tests indicated that the concussed players had higher T-tau levels following concussion compared to players who had yet to play.
The levels were at their highest in the first hour following having been concussed, and remained higher in those players six days later than they were in players who had yet to begin playing, although the levels began to decline 12 hours after the concussive incident.
These results led researchers to conclude that T-tau blood tests could serve as a reliable biomarker in diagnosing concussions and help doctors and patients make informed decisions on when an athlete is safe and able to return to playing sport.