Helmets are the norm in contact sports like American football. But here's the thing, helmets can't stop the brain from "sloshing" inside the skull after a traumatic head injury. That "sloshing" motion is the brain being banged and bruised against the skull, which could lead to a concussion if the trauma force is great enough. Most current methods for diagnosing a concussion involve lengthy waits at the emergency room while tests and scans confirm brain trauma. But Quanterix recently developed a concussion diagnostic method that takes just 20 minutes.
The test uses a proprietary machine that measures levels of a protein called Tau that gets released in the blood upon traumatic brain injuries or concussions. Earlier this year, another group of researchers at Orlando Health also announced a blood-based diagnostic method for concussion, but the difference between the two test lies in the biomarker being measured (Quanterix measures Tau, Orlando Health researchers measured glial fibrillary acidic protein).
Quanterix CEO Kevin Hrusovsky claims his version is 1000x more sensitive than other concussion diagnostic tests, and can detect mild concussions even before symptoms show up. He envisions the test to be available on the sidelines in sporting events soon. Now that's something to mull over when you watch Will Smith's upcoming movie Concussion.