Advances in Diagnosing Concussions

Continuing with our theme of sharing information about head injuries during the month of March, which is Brain Injury Awareness Month, we wanted to share with you this exciting research from Penn State Medical Center. 

Although the research sample was small – a total of 52 patients between the ages of 7 and 21 – the findings were impressive.  The patients who had experienced a head trauma were asked to do a saliva test – simply spitting into a cup – that was analyzed for biomarkers of concussion.  The patients also completed the Standardized Concussion Assessment Tool 3, a questionnaire used to help make a diagnosis of mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI).  The researchers discovered that the saliva biomarkers were more accurate than the questionnaire in identifying concussion.

School Psychologists are often asked to work with students returning to the learning environment following a concussion.  One of the toughest challenges in this work is the uncertainty surrounding the timeframe of concussion recovery.  Although further research is needed on the saliva biomarker test, this could someday help physicians determine when it might be safe for our students to return to sports or school following a mTBI.

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