AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 1, 2017

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Scientists Discover Concussion Biomarker

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Discovery takes guesswork out of concussion diagnosis and management

The secret to reliably diagnosing concussions lies in the brain’s ability to process sound, according to a new study by researchers from Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory. Widely considered a crisis in professional sports and youth athletic programs, sports-related concussions have had a devastating neurological, physical, social and emotional consequences for millions of athletes. Still, no single test has been developed to reliably and objectively diagnose concussions. The groundbreaking research has found a biological marker in the auditory system that could take the ambiguity and controversy out of diagnosing concussions and tracking recovery. “This biomarker could take the guesswork out of concussion diagnosis and management,” said lead author Nina Kraus, the Hugh Knowles Professor in the School of Communication and director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory. “Our hope is this discovery will enable clinicians, parents and coaches to better manage athlete health, because playing sports is one of the best things you can do.” By observing research subjects’ brain activity as they were exposed to auditory stimuli, Kraus and her team discovered a distinct pattern in the auditory response of children who suffered concussions compared to children who had not. 

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