A recently published study suggests and determines the potential of a novel method of diagnosis for concussions, plasma metabolomics profiling, in adolescent male hockey players.


Concussions are the result of an impactful force applied to the head usually leading to temporary unconsciousness. If severe, they can lead to long-term neurological dysfunction. Concussions are a major health concern, specifically in adolescents and athletes, and are often difficult to diagnose. A recent study published by Springer introduces plasma metabolomics profiling, a new method for diagnosing concussions and determines its function in adolescent male hockey players.

A group of male adolescent hockey players aged 12 to 14 was recruited for the study. Plasma (the clear-yellow component of blood) was collected from 12 athletes facing a concussion and 17 athletes who hadn’t faced a concussion. The time from the occurrence of a concussion to blood extraction at the first clinic visit was estimated at 2.3 days. The plasma was tested for 174 metabolites using a combination of proton nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometry. Statistical analysis, including principal component analysis, was carried out on the resulting data in relation to each metabolite.

The method was found to exhibit a 92% accuracy rate in diagnosing concussions. To achieve the 92% rate, the number of metabolites required was reduced to 17, as opposed to the initial 174 metabolites. Mass spectrometry proved to possess greater predictive ability relative to proton nuclear magnetic resonance. In concluding a success rate of >90%, the results of the study proved that plasma metabolomics profiling offers an innovative solution to the difficulty in diagnosing concussions.

With the study explaining and justifying the innovation, this new diagnostic method can be safely implemented into medical care, particularly for adolescent athletes. The study recognizes that this method may be an efficient form of point-of-care testing. That is, patients will have the availability of being tested in an environment of patient care, allowing a more accessible, time saving, and cost-efficient form of diagnosis. It will also enable medical care and treatment to be provided in time, potentially reducing risks of permanent neurological dysfunction.




Written By: Shrishti Ahuja, BSc

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