A recent study reveals a connection between complications resulting from mild traumatic brain injury and elevated levels of SNTF, a protein released into the blood by degenerating neurons. The discovery could help in providing millions of people around the world with better medical care in the wake of a head injury.
It’s been known for years that SNTF is easily identified in the blood of patients who’ve suffered a severe head injury or an ischemic stroke. However, the authors of a study published by the journal Frontiers in Neurology report that patients who demonstrated a slight elevation of SNTF immediately after sustaining a head injury took significantly longer to recover than patients who didn’t.
More SNTF in the blood correlates with damage to “white matter” in the brain—connecting tissue that transmits electrical signals.
Currently, there is no definitive way to diagnose concussions or predict which patients will cope with disabling cognitive problems resulting from traumatic brain injury. Doctors rely predominantly on symptom evaluation and imaging. These new findings could mean that concussions and disorders resulting from concussions could be diagnosed with a simple blood test.
The study authors express hope that their work could help greatly in improving treatment options and long-term outcomes—though more research is needed before the findings can be trusted for wide use as a diagnostic tool.