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Advancements in TBI Testing Prove Promising

Published on Mar 22, 2019 at 1:17 pm in Brain Injury.

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One of the most difficult things to prove in any type of personal injury case is that my client has suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), especially when the “expected” signs and symptoms are not apparent. When we think of traumatic brain injury, we conjure up images of someone not being able to talk, walk, or perform basic daily tasks.  While some people who suffer from traumatic brain injuries unfortunately experience these life-altering disabilities, many people who experience a TBI face less obvious, yet still very challenging effects.

In trying to show an insurance adjuster or a jury that my client has symptoms of TBI, I can point to references in medical records and I can rely upon testimony from family and friends who knew the person before and after the injury.  Oftentimes this testimony reveals that the person is more forgetful, is more anxious, is more angry, and gets easily frustrated.  We learn that the person used to act one way and now acts another, as if his whole personality is changed, many times for the worse.

But, not having direct evidence of a TBI complicates many cases. For instance, I can show you a broken bone on an x-ray, but sometimes I can’t show you a TBI on some type of medical report.  The jurors have to believe in my client wholly.  What’s challenging is that we live in an age where people come into the courtroom naturally suspicious of people who bring injury claims.  However, new developments in medicine may help those who believe they’ve suffered from a TBI.

According to Health.Mil, the official website of the Military Health System, the “first-ever blood test for detecting brain injury cleared by the FDA.”  According to an article by Health.Mil, new blood testing called “Brain Trauma Indicator, or BTI” identifies “two brain-specific protein markers,” which “rapidly appear in the blood and are elevated 12 hours following an incident where a head injury occurs and can signify if there is bleeding in the brain.”

As noted by one doctor, “[t]hese two proteins give us a window of insight into what is going on in the brain,” said Helmick. “We have lacked objective devices and data in TBI, especially with concussion. The reason biological markers are so important is because they are accurate, sensitive, and objective.

While this advancement is very promising for sufferers of TBI and could potentially save untold lives by indicating that immediate treatment is needed, the markers are not elevated if someone suffers what scientists call a “mild TBI.”  For instance, the test does not appear to confirm a mild concussion (or when I played football, what I was told was a “dinger” or “clearing the cobwebs out.”)  But, I am confident that research will continue.  Although there are a few tests that we utilize now to indicate the presence of a mild TBI or a serious TBI (although, I don’t like to distinguish between the two), an FDA approved blood test is a welcome sign of promising developments to come.

Learn more by watching my video on the same subject: