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Will a new test impact lawsuits arising from a brain injury?

In a recent post, we examined why the varying symptoms from head trauma may make it difficult to estimate long-term costs. In that regard, a recent article offers fresh hope. 

Specifically, a new blood test may help doctors to better determine the severity of a traumatic brain injury. Conventional approaches use diagnostic imaging, such as a computed tomography scan, to detect any bleeding in the brain. However, brain cell damage does not always result in bleeding, and thus may go undetected by CT scans. 

The new approach measures the levels of three proteins involved in typical brain cell activity. Researchers weren’t exactly sure of which proteins would best measure impaired functioning, so they compared levels in 150 uninjured patients with those in 300 patients already diagnosed with TBI. Researchers also measured symptoms in both groups after six months. The research found that the TBI patients had significantly lower levels of one protein, called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF.

BDNF bloodstream levels averaging 60 nanograms per milliliter indicate healthy brain activity. A patient with a brain injury might average less than 20 nanograms per milliliter, and severe TBI patients might only average 4 nanograms per milliliter. The lowered levels could be measured within 24 hours of the head trauma, and the size of the deficiency might allow doctors to estimate how long TBI symptoms will persist.

There are many common scenarios that might result in brain injury. From a slip-and-fall at a nursing home to a motor vehicle accident caused by a product defect or another driver’s negligence, victims might suffer head trauma. Thanks to the new TBI test, a victim may now be able to more accurately seek liability in an amount that will cover long-term care expenses.

Related Post: “Are damage awards difficult to estimate for brain injuries?” Marsh, Rickard & Bryan, Aug. 7, 2015

Source: Claims Journal, “New Blood Test Could Predict Brain Injury Outcomes,” July 31, 2015 

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