SCARBOROUGH — On Jan. 11, Abbott announced that the company had received clearance for the first rapid handheld blood test for traumatic brain injury, including concussions.

The test will help clinicians assess individuals suspected to have mild traumatic brain injuries, one of which is concussions, Abbott said.

“TBIs, including concussions, are an alteration in brain function caused by an external force,” Abbott said. “This test measures specific proteins present in the blood after a TBI. A negative result on this test can be used to rule out the need for a head CT scan, a common tool used to diagnose concussion. For those who test positive, this test result complements CT scans to help clinicians evaluate whether someone has a TBI.”

The test requires a blood sample from an individual, and plasma is drawn and applied to the test’s cartridge, Abbott said.

According to Abbott, nearly 5 million people go into the emergency room for a TBI each year in the United States.

Dr. Geoffrey Manley vice chair of neurological surgery at the University of California, San Francisco, said research shows that only about half of those who go to the hospital with a suspected TBI are discovered. 

“And beyond those who go to the hospital for a suspected TBI, many more never do,” he said. “A test like this could encourage more people to get tested after a head trauma, which is important, because not receiving a diagnosis can be dangerous and may prevent people from taking the necessary steps to recover safely.”

Health care providers have been waiting for such a blood test for the brain, said Dr. Beth McQuiston, medical director for Abbott’s diagnostics business.

“You can’t treat what you don’t know and now physicians will be equipped with critical, objective information that will help them provide the best care possible, allowing patients to take steps to recover, prevent reinjury and get back to doing the things they care about most,” she said.

Abbott said its vision is to have a 15-minute portable test for the future, which it is in the process of developing. This could potentially be used outside of clinicians’ offices, like at sporting events.

“Survivors of TBI may experience impairment of memory, movement, sensation (e.g., vision and hearing), and emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, psychological symptoms),” Abbott said. “Effects of TBI can last anywhere from a few days post-injury or may be permanent. People who sustain a TBI are more likely to have another one — similarly to how a sprained ankle or torn ligament is more susceptible to future injury.”

Business Update Scarborough (@updatescarborough) shared an informational video that Abbott posted to Facebook.

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