New Method detects traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic Brain Inury

According to a study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery, revealed that 45.2 percent of TBI among adults were related to horseback riding, Over the years, I’ve had two concussions — at least that I know of. The last one occurred about 10 or 12 years ago, while I was hunting. There is an in and out jump in one of our territories. It’s a short two or a long one. I was aiming for the long one. Kroni, my Trakehner took two. That got me off balance and I parted company with him over the second part. I didn’t think I’d hit my head. I climbed back on, finished they hunt (including jumping all the other fences), and trailered back to the barn. That’s when I started seeing stars. I’d never realized that it could take that long for the symptoms to emerge. I called my doctor and she said, sure, you probably had a concussion. Take it easy for a couple of days.

Scientists from the University of Birmingham have come up with a new way to test for TBIs using chemical biomarkers that are released by the brain immediately after a head injury occurred. The method tests a pinprick blood sample using a spectroscopic technique called surface-enhanced Raman scattering. A beam of light is “fired” at the biomarker, which causes the biomarker to rotate or vibrate. This movement can be measured, giving an accurate assessment of the level of injury that occurred.

In the study, 48 patients were assessed using the engineered device, with 139 samples taken from patients with TBI and 82 from a control group. In the TBI group, the levels of the biomarker were around 5 times higher than in samples taken from the control group. The team also found the levels tailed off rapidly around one hour after the injury occurred, further highlighting the need for rapid detection.

The technique was developed by multi-disciplinary team of researchers in the group of Advanced Nanomaterials, Structures and Applications (ANMSA) led by Dr Pola Goldberg Oppenheimer at the University of Birmingham.Researchers are now identifying how to commercialize the technique.

“This is a relatively straightforward and quick technique that offers a low-cost, but highly accurate way of assessing traumatic brain injury which up until now has not been possible,” Oppenheimer said.

The current tools we use to diagnose TBI are really quite old fashioned, and rely on the subjective judgment of the paramedic or the emergency doctors,” Oppenheimer said. “There’s an urgent need for new technology in this area to enable us to offer the right treatment for the patient, and also to avoid expensive and time-consuming tests for patients where there is no TBI.”


To produce the level of accuracy required, the test needs to be extremely sensitive, rapid and specific. The key to sensitivity is in the way the biomarkers interact with the surface. The team developed a low-cost platform, made from polymer and covered with a thin film of gold. This structure is then subjected to a strong electric field, which redistributes the film into a distinctive pattern, optimized to resonate in exactly the right way with the light beam.

Researchers are now working to miniaturize the device technology used to analyze the samples, so that it could be easily stored on board an ambulance for use by paramedics, used at sporting events where head injuries can be hard to detect.

Imagine when TBIs can be identified sooner and more accurately.

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