New Spit Test Will Allow for Easy Concussion Diagnosis

February 23, 2021, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

A new study released by Penn State College of Medicine researchers has concluded that a saliva test for concussion can be used as an aid to concussion diagnosis. The test is non-invasive and replaces more subjective ‘field side’ tests for concussion with an objective scientific measure.


The spit test measures tiny strands of microRNA which are released when there is brain damage and was developed after analyzing the saliva of more than 530 study participants. Altered levels of micrRNA in the saliva may be a good indicator of the presence of a concussion.


TBI, Concussion or Brain Damage


These usually occur as a result of some physical injury to the head. That can be a blow or concussive force often from a car accident, workplace accident or assault. The injury can be closed (no open wound) or open.


They can also occur from severe body blows. Symptoms can be immediate or develop over hours or days. For unknown reasons, some symptoms resolve quickly and others can take weeks, months or even years to improve. Sometimes the damage is permanent or continues to worsen over time.


Headaches, balance issues and memory loss are often short-term issues. Visual changes (double vision), sensitivity to light and sound are also common. Longer-term symptoms include mood change, depression, sleep disruption, memory loss, motor control and personality change.


Concussion diagnosis currently relies on physical observation of the patient’s symptoms and their self-reporting of neurocognitive symptoms. This saliva test will shorten the time to diagnosis and will accurately catch otherwise missed damage. A key to recovery from concussion and TBI is to begin appropriate treatment immediately.


From the Penn State news release the following approach was used:


To develop the diagnostic approach, researchers recruited 538 participants across 11 clinical sites. Approximately half the participants had a concussion reported within two weeks of starting the study, while the other half of participants did not, but had conditions that might mimic concussion symptoms including anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, exercise-related fatigue or chronic headaches.

The researchers used RNA sequencing to evaluate saliva samples from half of the participants, then used statistical modeling and machine learning to identify noticeable differences between the RNA profiles of participants with concussions and those without. Once they knew what RNA changes to look for, they tested more than 200 additional participants and were able to successfully identify which patients had concussions. The accuracy of the saliva approach performed favorably when compared with currently available tests involving balance and reaction time. The results were published in the journal Clinical and Translational Medicine.


Posted under Automobile Accident Benefits, Brain Injury, Car Accidents, Catastrophic Injury, Concussion Syndrome, Personal Injury, concussion

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Deutschmann Law serves South-Western Ontario with offices in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Woodstock, Brantford, Stratford and Ayr. The law practice of Robert Deutschmann focuses almost exclusively in personal injury and disability insurance matters. For more information, please visit or call us toll-free at 1-866-414-4878.

The opinions expressed here, while intended to provide useful information, should not be interpreted as legal recommendations or advice.

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