National statistics indicate that, annually, some 2.2 million people in the U.S. alone seek emergency medical care for traumatic brain injuries. While medical technology and research has advanced to the point where robots are performing surgeries and people can select their child’s gender, much about the human brain remains a mystery. Because of this, there’s currently no universal or systematic method that’s used by emergency departments to assess and diagnose patients for or with TBIs.

If left untreated, the negative health effects of a TBI can become magnified, putting an individual at greater risk for suffering additional concussions and more serious and long-term side effects. Recently researchers in Minnesota announced their plans to conduct a study to learn more about and develop definitive ways to detect a brain injury with a goal of then using this data to “develop a new standard approach for evaluating patients with TBI in the ED.”

For the study, researchers at the “Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, and the University of Minnesota, in collaboration with Abbott,” plan to examine and evaluate the injuries and outcomes of some 1,000 patients of varying ages. Based on current research and studies, researchers will focus and hone their TBI diagnostic efforts by conducting three tests to evaluate if a brain injury has occurred and, if so, the extent of an injury.

A change in eye movement has been linked to brain injuries. Therefore, one of the tests that researchers plan to use in the study centers on tracking the eye movements of suspected TBI patients. Using a specialized camera device, researchers can “map pupillary position as a patient watches a two-minute video on a monitor or iPad.”

Researchers also plan to examine blood samples from patients to determine the existence of certain “blood-based biomarkers” that are known to be released into the bloodstream after a TBI. Additionally, patients will also undergo more advanced MRI scans which are able to detect even subtle changes in brain matter and chemistry that aren’t detected using standard MRI scanning devices.

Source: Forbes, “Largest Single-Center Concussion Study Launched At Trauma Center In Minnesota,” Robert Glatter, MD, March 11, 2016