In the past few months it has been discovered that there are likely biomarkers in the blood signaling when a traumatic brain injury, there are new ways to identify brain injury with advanced scans, and there are countless apps coming out helping diagnose TBI, yet an unambiguous diagnostic method still eludes us.
In the continuing fight for an objective concussion diagnostic method, the Mayo Clinic has taken a huge step forward with research that shows autonomic reflex testing, which measures automatic changes in heart rate and blood pressure, consistently shows changes in people who suffer concussions, according to Medical Daily.
The findings were presented at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in San Diego, where Dr. David Dodick, director of the Mayo Clinic Concussion Program said, “One of the challenges of treating someone with a concussion is to reliably make a diagnosis: to know when the brain is injured and to know when the brain is actually recovered.”
The study observed 21 patients who suffered traumatic brain injuries, and all patients showed significant abnormalities in heart rate and blood pressure during autonomic testing. It should be noted one hundred percent results like these are very rare, even in small studies such as this.
The findings may change the way we diagnose TBI, but it may also change our understandings of how TBI affects us. “Contrary to popular belief, the symptoms of ‘dizziness’ that patients feel just after a concussion may, in some cases, be symptoms of autonomic system impairment rather than a vestibular or inner ear disturbance,” said neurologist Dr. Bert Vargas of the Mayo Clinic.
The next step for the Mayo Clinic is to turn this small test into a larger sample size and see if they still find such consistent results in autonomic testing. They believe their results will be replicated.