Ask the Expert: Is there a new way to predict concussion recovery time?

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - The sports medicine experts at Saint Elizabeth Healthcare say if an athlete returns to the field too soon, the risk for re-injury can have both immediate and long term risks.

When an athlete takes a hit on the field a concussion or blow to the brain really shows up in metabolic changes in the brain cells after trauma. The problem is that right now , there's not an accurate way to measure those changes.

Dr. Mike Miller is a sports medicine specialist and says balance tests or even standard imaging tests of the brain still leave experts with the problem of making sure officials don't send people back too early. All that could soon change thanks to researchers with the National Institutes of Health who recently looked at what's called the "Tau Protein" in college athletes.

They followed the athletes throughout the entire season and compared those who did have a concussion to those that did not. They found the marker to be predictive in both male and female athletes. They found athletes that needed more than 10 days of recovery time after a concussion before returning to play had higher levels of the Tau Protein.

Which means Dr. Miller said, "Now it's likely still going to be awhile before this is a mainstream test, but it's a good first step."

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