Have you ever hit your head at work? Perhaps the blow to the head was strong enough to give you a concussion. If so, have you ever wondered what sort of long-term effects an injury like that can have on you? If you’re like most of our readers, then you probably answered yes to that last question. Because you can’t see what’s going on inside your head, it’s difficult to tell if a brain injury has caused permanent damage or will have any lasting effects that make you unable to work. As a result, people are often left wondering if there is any way to catch this issue early before it becomes a major problem.
Although still in the testing stages, some researchers believe that they may have discovered a nonintrusive way of detecting brain damage that is not only accurate but can help catch traumas earlier. Using blood samples, scientists look for a specific protein called SNTF that is released by neurons when they are degenerating. By detecting the protein and determining its level in the blood stream, researchers can also distinguish between an injury that is likely to heal quickly versus an injury that could take months to heal.
Having information like this would be incredibly helpful for workers who have sustained serious work-related head injuries because it will not only tell them the seriousness of their injury but whether it will keep them from work for an extended period of time. It will also help doctors detect head injuries sooner and prescribe treatment plans necessary for a faster recovery.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Could a blood test detect concussion with lasting disability?” Melissa Healy, Nov. 20, 2013