In January 2018 the NFL released statistics indicating that concussions were increased by 16% during the 2017 season. This increase has been blamed on improved reporting standards. While early (sideline) evaluation methods are improving, the inherent problem remains, subjectivity. Players, teammates, coaches, and even the athletic training staff all must rely on subjective analysis to determine whether an athlete has suffered a concussion. Even the sports medicine physicians and neurologists on the sidelines are limited to evaluation techniques that are controlled by their individual expertise in “subjectively” interpreting the neurological testing that they can perform inside that now familiar blue tent.
A few companies have already developed the technology to quickly and easily draw and evaluate athlete’s blood moments after a suspected concussion to objectively determine if the blood brain barrier has been disrupted. No questions need to be asked, the blood doesn’t lie. For years the medical staff has taken players back to the locker room for X-rays to scan for broken bones, to indicate whether it is safe for them to return to the game. Why not follow the same diagnostic procedure for the brain, with a blood test?
At Atlas Concussion Testing we have the capability of confirming when the blood brain barrier is disrupted, but quite possibly even more importantly, we have the exclusive technology to measure when the blood brain barrier has healed. It is vital that athletes are removed from play when they have suffered a concussion, knowing when it is SAFE for them to return to play has plagued team medical staffs and physicians for years. Our biomarkers can take the guesswork out of the decision of IF to remove from play and WHEN to return to play.
On February 14, 2018 The New York Times published an article introducing blood testing as a new method of diagnosing traumatic brain injuries. The newly FDA approved test is provided by Banyan, a company that has been involved in concussion research with the NFL since Commissioner Goodell announced his PlaySmart PlaySafe Concussion Research Initiative in September 2016. The importance of this article cannot be understated, biomarkers are objective diagnostic tools, and should be considered to replace the current neuropsychological computerized testing procedures utilized to manage concussions.
Banyan has created a blood test and testing method that could be very helpful to doctors who want objective confirmation of a suspected concussion diagnosis. Apparently, Banyan has collaborated to provide equipment that is capable to be used on the sidelines or in the locker rooms to quickly assess players with suspected concussions. The impact of this change offers a quick and concise “remove from play” protocol for the medical professionals charged with the care of athletes on the sidelines of NFL games.
At Atlas Concussion Testing we applaud the efforts of Banyan to provide biomarkers that can assist with providing quick and easy to administer blood tests that can improve the safety of NFL players with objective “remove from play” biomarkers. Unfortunately, the biomarkers UHC-L1 and GFAP that Banyan has chosen for this blood test only have 4-hour half-lives, therefore they are only present in the blood for about 24 hours. While removing a concussed athlete from play is important, knowing when to return them to play is essential.
Atlas Concussion Testing utilizes The Blood Brain Barrier Permeability Test from Cyrex Labs to measure proteins in the blood called antibodies, that are very stable and can be present for months,indicating that the concussion has not healed. We have been using these biomarkers as confirmation that it is truly SAFE to allow an athlete to return to play since July 2016. With proper metabolic treatment strategies, the blood brain barrier can be healed more quickly, and brain inflammation can be calmed to reduce symptoms thus allowing players to resume their normal levels of participation. And finally, with a negative Blood Brain Barrier Permeability Test they can return to play without concern for second impact syndrome. To our knowledge, Cyrex Labs offers the only blood test that can do this.