No more CTs? This new blood test can detect concussions

If you’ve ever had a concussion, you know it’s no fun. For kids it’s even worse, not only because of the debilitating effects, but because the process to confirm you have one is miserable and imprecise. Or, it used to be. A recently developed blood test can detect concussions with near-100 percent accuracy.

A study published in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine confirmed that a particular biomarker could be used to determine if young patients had suffered mild or moderate traumatic brain injuries (MMTBIs). Researchers at Orlando Regional Medical Center in Florida discovered that the biomarker, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), was higher in the blood of young patients who showed lesions on their brain scans.

Blood was drawn from the young patients within six hours after injury. Injured cells release GFAP, and these pass the blood-brain barrier, making them detectable via blood test. Dr. Lina Papa, MSC, lead author of the study explained that the biomarker can even indicate the severity of the injury, saying “With our blood test, we were able to identify the presence of brain injuries 94 percent of the time.”

CT scans are the established method of determining MMTBIs, but this new test offers doctors an alternative to the expensive test that requires exposing young patients to radiation. Dr. Papa said, “You really want to minimize the amount of CTs you do to your patients, especially children, who are a lot more sensitive to radiation and the side effects that can come with it.”

For the rest of us, researchers found elevated levels of the biomarker in people complaining of MMTBI symptoms. Previous GFAP analysis in an animal study and a comparable study on adults produced similar results. Concussions can be caused by even mild bumps on the head, so having this sort of test for kids who may not be able to articulate how they feel even if they’re old enough to speak could set parents’ minds at ease. Dr. Papa told Fox News, “When we see children who can’t speak and tell us how they feel, having a blood test that can speak for the child and tell us how severe the injury is — that would help us so much.”

This is the most accurate way to detect concussions to date. Dr. Wayne Gordon, vice chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Icahn Mount Sinai who is unaffiliated with the study said, “You don’t have any real sensitive tool for diagnosis … it could ultimately eventually replace CT scans or be used in conjunction with CT scans. If you had a positive finding, you’d know it was a bleed, and you’d want to use a CT scan.”

While this won’t replace CTs for more severe injuries, it does serve as a negative indicator; if a patient’s blood test comes back negative, they can be spared a CT. For those with access, more accurate technologies are emerging for picking up early phase concussions, like resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. More studies are planned for the blood test, but researchers hope it will be available within the next five years.

Wearables

The Nowa Superbe tracks fitness, without looking like it belongs in the gym

The Nowa Superbe is not a hybrid smartwatch, as it doesn’t deliver notifications, and is instead a basic fitness tracker wearing its best party outfit. Here's what we think of the Superbe after a few days wearing it.
Cars

Florida allows autonomous cars to drive on its roads without human supervision

Florida governor Ron DeSantis passed a law that establishes a legal framework for self-driving cars to operate within the state. It allows car and tech companies to test self-driving cars without a human operator behind the wheel.
Emerging Tech

This lifesaving wearable could diagnose strokes more accurately

A new breakthrough wearable device uses two light measurement techniques to track the body's blood circulation — and accurately predict deadly strokes in the process. Here's how it works.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Facebook’s Study, Uber’s fast-food drones, deepfake Zuck

On this episode of DT Live, we discuss the biggest tech news of the day, including Facebook’s new Study app, Uber’s fast-food delivery drones, a new Legends of Zelda game, an update from E3, and deepfake Zuck.
Emerging Tech

Custom 3D-printed heads let doctors practice delicate brain procedures

Radiotherapists who operate to remove brain tumors could benefit from being able to practice on specific patients ahead of time. Thanks to customized 3D-printed heads, now they can!
Deals

Stay fit and save cash with our top 10 affordable Fitbit alternatives

As much as we love Fitbits, they're rather expensive. If all you want is a simple activity tracker, however, then check out these great cheap Fitbit alternatives. With offerings from brands like Garmin, you don't need to pay full price.
Deals

Father’s Day Smartwatch sale: Garmin, Samsung Gear, and Apple Watch deals

Father's Day is around the corner, but there's still plenty of time to pick up a new smartwatch for Dad. We've scoured the web for the best deals on smartwatches, and have found a few from Apple, Garmin, and Samsung that we wanted to share.
Outdoors

The best Father’s Day gifts for outdoorsy, adventure-loving dads

For Father's Day 2019 forget the ties and socks and give your adventurous and outdoorsy dad the gifts that he really wants to take with him on his hiking and camping excursions in the backcountry.
Deals

Amazon’s Father’s Day sale cuts $150 off Garmin’s Fenix 5X Sapphire smartwatch

There are great fitness smartwatch deals across the web ahead of Father's Day, especially on some of the high-end models like the Garmin Fenix 5X Sapphire. For fitness junky Dads, Garmin's top of the line smartwatch is a great choice.
Deals

Need to reduce dentist visits? Philips’ Sonicare electric toothbrush is $30 off

If you’re looking to improve your oral hygiene and save a few dollars along the way, Amazon is currently offering the Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 Plaque Control for only $40.
Deals

Before buying an Apple Watch, check out this cheap smartwatch under $100

Not looking to spend hundreds of dollars on a smartwatch? You might want to consider this little-known but well-reviewed cheap smartwatch from Amazfit called the Bip. It's on sale on Amazon, and you can have it in one day if you're a Prime…
Emerging Tech

A medical superglue alternative is made from Chinese giant salamander goo

Forget medical superglue! Harvard researchers have discovered a special natural adhesive that's able to seal up wounds, made from goo excreted from the skin of Chinese giant salamanders.
Health & Fitness

Stop waking up groggy every morning. Snooze smarter with the best sleep gadgets

Do you snore? Toss and turn? Alternate between extremely hot and extremely cold body temperatures at night? A deluge of smart sleep technology on the market aims to help you get a better night of shut-eye.
Product Review

Samsung's $99 fitness tracker takes on Fitbit. Can it keep pace?

Samsung’s going toe-to-toe against Fitbit’s Inspire HR with its own $99 fitness tracker -- the Galaxy Fit. It also has a heart rate monitor, can automatically detect six workouts, and has a battery that can last for days.