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Researchers identify blood protein linked to brain injuries

When someone in Colorado goes to an emergency room with head trauma, a physician will normally perform a CT scan to look for bleeding in the brain. If no bleeding is apparent, the person will be sent home. As some head trauma victims know, however, everything may not be fine. Brain injuries can inflict headaches, muscle weakness, poor memory, coma and other symptoms for weeks and months.

Hoping to develop a better clinical technique for assessing the severity of a head trauma, a study led by an emergency medicine professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine took blood samples from people who had suffered blows to the head and from a control group without head injuries. The research team found that the blood protein brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is associated with brain cell function, to be low in people whose traumatic brain injury symptoms persisted long term. Moderate to high levels of the protein appeared in the samples from people who recovered quickly or were never hurt.

The study's lead author said that testing for this blood protein could enable better follow-up care. A person with a low level could be directed to take time off of work or school or to visit a therapist or neurologist. Early treatment could potentially speed recovery. Traumatic brain injuries happen in many common situations like car accidents and sporting events.

A severe brain injury could reduce the victim's quality of life and even eliminate the possibility of a career. If the negligent act of another was the cause of the accident, a personal injury lawyer might assess the evidence in order to determine the advisability of filing a lawsuit on behalf of the victim seeking the recovery of damages from the responsible party.

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