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Saliva test could diagnose concussions in children

Concussions are traumatic brain injuries caused by a blow or jolt to the head. They are usually not life-threatening, and they don't always result in loss of consciousness, as some believe, but their symptoms can be severe: nausea, vomiting, dizziness, blurry vision, and even memory problems. They cannot be discovered through MRI and CT scans and are thus hard to diagnose. Residents of West Virginia should know, however, that there is one way that it might be effectively diagnosed.

A study published in JAMA Pediatrics revealed that saliva tests may one day be used to diagnose as well as predict the duration of concussions in children and teens. Researchers from the Penn State College of Medicine say that saliva contains five molecules called microRNAs that could identify, with an estimated 85 percent accuracy, concussive symptoms in young patients.

Nearly two-thirds of concussions occur in children and young adults, with one-third of them experiencing prolonged symptoms. Most patients' symptoms disappear within two weeks.

The study involved 52 patients between the ages of 7 and 21, most of whom were recently involved in car and sports accidents. After taking their saliva, researchers found that their microRNA levels correctly identified the 30 patients who had prolonged symptoms. However, the editorial authors warn that a larger sample size is required before the results can be considered reliable.

Those who receive a head injury after a car accident or slip and fall should speak with a lawyer about filing an injury claim. If the victim experiences concussive symptoms, the lawyer could factor the medical bills and the pain and suffering into the settlement. He or she will then hire investigators to find proof of the other party's negligence before negotiating with the insurance companies. If a settlement cannot be reached, the lawyer can take the case to court.

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