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On-Field Blood Test For Concussions?

University of Rochester researchers say a blood test is possible for concussions.

Hockey is a contact sport. The players on the RIT men's hockey team don't deny that.

"Sometimes you get banged pretty hard whether it be a hit or there is fighting in junior hockey," said Alexander Kuqali, a hockey player.

But when you take a blow to the head - concussion symptoms can vary.

Senior Ben Lynch has had a few.

“It starts to get a little ringing in your head and you try to remember things and you can't remember things that happened five minutes ago," said Ben Lynch, a hockey player.

Dr. Jeff Bazarian at the University of Rochester and researchers in Germany have studied these hockey players and other athletes over the last four years.

They have discovered that a brain protein in the blood: S100B jumps slightly during exercise.

But after a concussion - there is a major spike.

"It looks like this one particular blood test is good at distinguishing if an athlete has had a concussion from and athlete that is just playing their sport," said Dr. Jeff Bazarian, URMC Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine.

The hope is to one day have this blood test be a single finger prick along the sidelines to have those players who need to stay out of the game, and those who can, go back in.

Wayne Wilson is the head hockey coach at RIT.

He struggles with players who want get back on the ice even after injuries.

"I think it takes all of the guess work out. then you have an immediate answer. He is concussed, he can not play. There are certain athletes that try to hide it,” said Wilson.

Dr. Bazarian says concussions have short-term effects but the real worry is possible dementia down the road.

The technology exists to do these tests but it needs FDA approval.

"It costs about $1-2 million for a company to bring a test through the FDA. I am hoping that a company will see this as a risk worth taking," said Dr. Bazarian.

"At the end of the day, it's just a game. We are all going to be done playing some day. And you have to move on, get a job, and live your life and you don't want to be living with head problems,” said Lynch.

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