Queensland study aims for world’s first concussion blood test for sport – Reuters
Researchers from the University of Queensland are seeking volunteer school rugby and basketball players for brain scans as they work on a new blood test to help diagnose a concussion.
The Queensland Brain Institute at UQ has partnered with World Rugby, Rugby Australia, Qscan, Trajan and Sonic Health for the project.
It will use advanced brain imaging, blood testing and cognitive testing to identify biomarkers that reflect a concussion–induced changes in the brain.
Volunteers from Queensland GPS School Rugby and Basketball Players in Year 9 and up are needed from October 2022 until next year’s rugby season.
Lead researcher Associate Professor Fatima Nasrallah says blood test would have huge impact on sport on the other side the world.
“If we can find a biomarker that accurately reflects how the brain responds to and recovers from a concussion, that will be a game-changer for sport,” Professor Nasrallah said.
“We could then develop a field–secondary tool to inform diagnosis and necessary action in real time–time, such as removing players from the field or only returning when it is safe to do so then.
“Ultimately, if we identify a biomarker and develop an easy point–of–a care tool that can accurately diagnose concussions on the sideline or in the clinic, we will help improve the safety of school, community and professional sport.
In elite sport, a concussion is diagnosed using a SCAT5 test or Rugby Australia’s Head Injury Assessment (HIA) protocol to measure subjective behavioral symptoms.
Many sporting bodies in Australia take a ‘when in doubt, sit down’ approach to potential concussions under the Concussion in Sport Australia guidelines.
A diagnostic tool based on a confirmed biomarker would provide objective evidence–concussion-based assessment in elite sports and at the community level, where there is currently no uniform assessment process.
World Rugby Chief Medical Officer Dr Éanna Falvey welcomed thee new search.
“The potential for the Queensland study is huge. If cutting-edge research from the University of Queensland could uncover a blood test that identified concussion in community play, it would have huge benefits not just for rugby but for the whole sport of the world,” said the Dr. Favey.
“World Rugby is committed to never stopping at player welfare. Our six–our plan to become the most progressive sport in the world in this area includes a commitment to invest in science and research and this study is just one example of the implementation of our plan.
“While the risks at the youth and community level are not comparable to elite play, the program demonstrates the sport’s continued focus on the objective identification and management of brain injury, while advancing strategies injury prevention for youth rugby through amended laws, tackling technique and education.”
The Sixes of World Rugby-indicate player welfare plan can be viewed here.
Above left: Associate Professor Fatima Nasrallah examining brain scans. Picture provided.
Media: Merrett Pye, Queensland Brain Institute, email@example.com, +61 (0)422 096 049 or Elaine Pye, firstname.lastname@example.org, +61 (0)415 222 606; Peter Hannon, World Rugby, email@example.com, +353 87 947 9907.