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Identifying Mild to Moderate TBI Through Biomarkers (Blood Test)

Identifying Mild to Moderate TBI Through Biomarkers (Blood Test)

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As you know, TBI or Traumatic Brain Injury (Also Known as Concussion) is the leading cause of acquired forms of Epilepsy. Today, I got to be a part of the “Biomarkers of Mild and Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury Study” conducted by the National Institute of Health and the National Intitute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. I was a control. Six weeks ago I suffered a trauma, a broken elbow. While in the ER, I was asked to be a part of this study. They collected a blood sample and later called me to schedule an in house study of my neurological condition post trauma. This is a cutting-edge research study and Orlando Regional Medical Center, here in Orlando, Florida is right at the center of it!

Why I was a control

Researches have identified biomarkers (proteins in this case) that are seemingly present in the blood only after a TBI. Since I was a trauma patient, but did not suffer a brain injury, I acted as a control, going through all the same steps and tests as their brain injury patients. They want to prove that this protein is only present after a TBI and not any other type of trauma.

What my contribution consisted of

At the time of my injury they collected a blood sample as a control to ensure that the proteins that they have identified as possible biomarkers were not present. I had an IV in my arm already and the ER tech siphoned off a vile of my red stuff to give to the researchers who were present. I answered a few general health related questions and signed on the dotted line. I was then contacted at a later time to set up my appointment for today’s tests.

Today, I went through a series of cognitive, emotional, and psychological tests and answered survey questions that ranged from emotional impact of the injury to mobility questions, and more. The whole test lasted about two hours at a very rigorous pace. The worst part was a recognition test that consisted of a blank computer screen that presented letters, one at a time. I had to hit the spacebar every time a letter appeared, besides the letter “X”. The speed of the letters varied and were painfully slow at times and incredible fast at times. It proved to be more challenging than you may think. I accidentally hit the spacebar for the letter X nearly 20 times in 20 minutes! Some of the other tests were number and word recollections (i.e. a word list was stated and I had to recall them), word generation (“Name all the boys names you can in 1 minute!”), and image recognition and recollection ( “Did you see a lawnmower or a birdhouse among the 50 pictures we showed you 15 minutes ago”).

All in all, it was very interesting to see the way that these tests were administered to determine psychological acuteness, and impact of brain injury.  I am lucky to have not suffered a TBI and through this experience, gained a great deal of perspective and knowledge. I feel very proud to have made a small contribution to this TBI Biomarker Identification Study.

Why this is important

Medical science has progressed dramatically and the treatment of brain injury is much more effective if identified sooner rather than later, long term effect may be minimized if treatment occurs immediately.. Until now, doctors relied on CT scans to diagnose brain injury and even this imaging can miss certain types of brain injuries. This blood test may be much more effective to help healthcare determine how badly a patient’s head injury really is.

About TBI

Each year 1.7 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury.  Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is an important public health problem in the United States.

TBI is frequently referred to as the “silent epidemic” because the complications from TBI, such as changes affecting thinking, sensation, language, or emotions, may not be readily apparent. In addition, awareness about TBI among the general public is limited.

Brain injury from trauma and other neurological conditions frequently escapes detection using current imaging technology such as magnetic resonance (MRI) and computer-assisted tomography (CAT). mTBI is associated with cognitive impairment in attention, learning and information processing is correlated with sleep disorder and accumulating sleep deprivation.

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4 Comments

  1. Profile photo of EpilepsyU

    We think the world of you Allyn but did they do a scan to be sure your brain is intact. This sounds very interesting and we a proud you are taking part in ground breaking research! Thanks for posting this and always were a helmet when doing sports!

    Reply
    • Profile photo of EpilepsyUni

      Thank you for that! I am glad I was wearing a helmet when I fell, or I may not have been as lucky as to be a control 🙂

    • Great post Allyn. I too am very grateful you were wearing a helmet and only had to have parts of the Titanic installed in your arm and not in your head.

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