Neural biomarker may improve brain trauma diagnosis

In previous posts, we’ve explored some of the functional challenges that may arise from a traumatic brain injury. Although individuals may feel well enough to return to work, complications or symptoms may surface in the weeks or even months following a TBI incident. In other cases, neurological problems may not become evidence until even later. Not even diagnostic imaging scans might be able detect TBI that doesn’t register as swelling or bleeding in brain tissues.

However, researchers may have discovered a new test for diagnosing TBI. Specifically, a protein called SNTF is believed to be a byproduct from degenerating neurons in the brain’s white matter. The same protein is also released after a stroke involving an obstructed blood vessel supplying blood to the brain, but in much higher levels.

Researchers were able to detect the protein in the bloodstream of patients that had suffered brain trauma. As a blood biomarker, researches found that elevated levels of the protein were effective at identifying patients that had sustained damage to neural connective tissue. The same patients also exhibited cognitive issues months after their trauma incident.

A Social Security disability insurance attorney might greet such news with optimism. Qualifying for SSDI payments on the basis of a disability expected to last twelve months or more is no easy feat. In the case of TBI, the lack of a diagnosis or definitive evidence of the extent of impairment has historically made it difficult to qualify for benefits. The new test may help patients produce more evidence that demonstrates the level of impairment caused by their brain injury or trauma.

Source:, “Could a blood test detect concussion with lasting disability?” Melissa Healy, Nov. 20, 2013