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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Biomarkers Could Help Predict Time Needed for Athletes to Recover from Concussion

Close-up of two young men in football uniforms and helmets

In a collaborative study, scientists have identified blood biomarkers that could help predict which athletes need additional time to recover from a sports-related concussion.

A collaborative study conducted by scientists from NIH, the Department of Defense and multiple academic institutions has identified blood biomarkers that could help predict which athletes need additional time to recover from a sports-related concussion. This collaboration, known as the Concussion Assessment, Research and Education consortium, is supported, in part, by DoD and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

In this study, conducted at several sites across the U.S., 127 male and female collegiate athletes who had sustained a sports-related concussion were tested at several time points: shortly after injury, when their symptoms resolved, and one week after returning to play. Each athlete had also undergone preseason, baseline testing.

Using an ultrasensitive assay that can detect minute amounts of protein, the researchers tested blood serum from these athletes and identified two blood proteins that were associated with the length of time needed by the athletes to return to play. 

Amounts of these two proteins, tau protein and glial fibrillary acidic protein, were found to be significantly different in athletes who needed less or more than 14 days to return. 

While further research is needed, the results of this study are an important step toward the development of a test that could help predict which athletes need more time to recover from a concussion before resuming activity.

The study was published in JAMA Network Open.

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

Published 25 times each year, it comes out on payday Fridays.

Associate Editor: Carla Garnett
Carla.Garnett@nih.gov

Staff Writers:

Eric Bock
Eric.Bock@nih.gov

Dana Talesnik
Dana.Talesnik@nih.gov

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