By On September 11th, 2014

Can a Breathalyzer Type Test Detect Brain Injuries?

drager-alcotest-6510-dot-approval-evidential-breathalyzerOne of the most persistent issues following the heightened focus on preventing and better treating brain injuries, both in and outside of sports, is the lack of objective test to diagnose the condition.

While multiple groups of researchers have created potential objective means of diagnosing the condition, none have come to fruition and the only tools available today focus on symptomology rather than the injury itself. We are still unable to effectively measure a concussion, so the best options we have involve measuring delays and difficulties in cognition and coordination in the most objective manner possible.

This week, a new potential tool to measure brain injuries was brought into the limelight, when researchers from the University of Birmingham proposed a “breathalyzer” like device that would measure key chemicals known to indicate brain injury when found in the bloodstream. The researchers work was presented at the British Science Festival in Birmingham.

Others have attempted to create blood tests which would measure these chemicals in a similar manner, but lead researcher Prof. Tony Belli explained that other areas may prove more fruitful. He said, “these biochemical compounds from the brain can be measured in a number of different fluids – for example, saliva and breath.”

“At the moment a breathalyser is tuned to detect alcohol – but you can reengineer it to detect other things. And you need to refine the technology at the same time, to detect very small amounts.”
It is unclear if the device will ever come to be a reality, but if it is proven possible the tool could mean a huge leap forward in brain injury management and diagnosis.

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