Biomarkers in Saliva Help Detect Concussion in Rugby Players
According to Antonio Belli, a neurosurgeon at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, the test “provides an invaluable tool to assist clinicians in diagnosing concussion more consistently and accurately.” Belli added that the test could be used in a variety of settings, including health care and the military. These biomarkers may pave the way for a future diagnostic test that is on a par with exams performed by medical professionals in terms of accuracy. This could be especially beneficial for rugby players and other athletes participating in community sports, who frequently lack access to the same level of medical evaluation as professionals.
The new test, which analyzes a set of 14 biomarkers found in saliva using an algorithm, would add an objective data point to a medical provider’s assessment. The researchers discovered that the test’s results accurately predicted the diagnosis of a medical expert more than 90% of the time.
More About the Study
The study, which was published in a British journal, analyzed saliva samples from over 1,000 male professional rugby players, the majority of whom are white. The researchers intend to conduct additional research to determine how well the test works with male and female athletes from other sports, as well as individuals of various ages and ethnicities.
The research trial enrolled rugby players who had been diagnosed with concussions, players who had been involved in head impacts but were cleared of concussions following an examination, players who had sustained musculoskeletal injuries, and healthy players.
Other researchers who were not involved in the study lauded the study’s methodology. “They’re putting in comparison their concussion group to a group of rugby players & athletes who underwent a head injury [exam] after being observed to have head contact or impact on the field, but were later diagnosed with a concussion,” said Steve Hicks, a pediatrician at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey. This is critical, he explained, because researchers in the field are attempting to identify molecules that indicate the presence of a concussion.
Additionally, Hicks noted that technological advancements were required to develop a truly fast test capable of determining whether a player should return to play during a game.