Reprinted from NPR
A little spit may help predict whether a child’s concussion symptoms will subside in days or persist for weeks.
A test that measures fragments of genetic material in saliva was nearly 90 percent accurate in identifying children and adolescents whose symptoms persisted for at least a month, a Penn State team told the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco, Calif. In contrast, a concussion survey commonly used by doctors was right less than 70 percent of the time.
If the experimental test pans out, “a pediatrician could collect saliva with a swab, send it off to the lab and then be able to call the family the next day,” says Steven Hicks, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Penn State Hershey. Hicks helped develop the test and consults for a company that hopes to market concussion tests.
A reliable test would help overcome a major obstacle in assessing and treating concussions, which affect more than one million children and adolescents in the U.S. each year. Many of the injuries are related to sports.
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