Test to Gauge Severity of Concussions

Brain Scan Graphic

Researchers in the field of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) at the Mayo Clinic have found one way to test for TBI using autonomic reflex testing. This measures involuntary changes in heart rate and blood pressure. These two biological processes change significantly in people who have sustained a concussion.

Currently, the primary method of diagnosing whether concussive symptoms have stopped is by relying on self-reported information from the patient. Often, there is a gap in time between when symptoms have ceased and the brain has completely healed. Therefore, there is a need for the medical community to more easily and accurately determine the status of a TBI.Autonomic nervous system dysfunction has long been known to be an indicator of a more severe TBI. But, Mayo Clinic researchers have also identified it as an indicator of more mild injury. The autonomic nervous system involuntarily controls such activities as the heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, respiratory rate and perspiration.

Dodick D, Goodman B, et al. Test to gauge severity of concussions. American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting. (March 2013).