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Spit test could determine concussion duration in kids


A little spit can go a long way in helping concussion diagnoses.


A new test could determine the length and duration of a concussion, says a study published in JAMA Pediatrics on Monday.


The researchers found five genetic molecules in saliva, called microRNAs, which were able to identify concussive symptoms in 52 test subjects aged 7 to 21. These microRNAs can be found in the blood, spinal fluid and even saliva.


The microRNAs were able to predict with 85% accuracy which concussed kids would have symptoms one month later. Standard clinical surveys are only 65% accurate.

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A concussion is a traumatic brain injury which, though not life-threatening, can lead to headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, vertigo and confusion among other symptoms. Nearly two-thirds of concussion patients are children, the study says.


While most concussion cases only last a few days, up to 25% of kids have long-term symptoms that can last up to four months. This new test can determine which children will have longer-term symptoms. The test can also determine concussion even in children who don’t have obvious symptoms of a concussion.


“Fortunately, the technology required to measure saliva RNA is already employed in medicine; we use it to check patients for upper respiratory viruses in our hospitals and clinics every day,” Dr. Steve Hicks, the study’s senior author, told CNN. “Modifying this approach for patients with concussions could potentially provide a rapid, objective tool for managing brain injury.”


Hicks says he hopes the test can come to market within the next one or two years after more research is done.

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The test will soon be tested with adults and members of the Armed Forces.


“Because the markers we identified in this study are not correlated with patient age, we are hopeful they may be applied in adult populations, as well,” he said.

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featured lifestyle
sports concussions
youth sports
children’s health

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