As concussion awareness has steadily increased over the last several years, experts have been scrambling to find a quick, reliable, and portable diagnostic tool for coaches, parents, and trainers. Sideline cognitive testing in particular has taken immense strides forward in helping to accurately determine if something is wrong after a head impact.
But these tests are largely subjective and imprecise, and there’s no substitute for definitive physiological data. Scientists out of The Forsyth Institute, a Harvard-affiliated research organization specializing in oral care, think they may have found a way to provide that data. They claim they can diagnose concussions (and many other serious diseases) using saliva.
Studies have shown that spit analysis can reveal the same information as bloodwork can, including the rise in proteins and hormones that indicate head trauma. And unlike blood, no specialized equipment or personnel is required to extract it.
Therefore, in theory, players could simply spit into a machine on the sidelines, the saliva would be analyzed, and a head injury could be confirmed or ruled out. While the idea is a bit strange, if saliva proves a fast and reliable diagnostic tool for athletes, it could be instrumental in promoting head safety in the future.
*Scientists have no conclusive evidence as to whether or how the reduction of g-forces during impacts reduces the number or degree of concussions and head injuries. GelDefender products provide supplemental padding as well as cooling and comfort benefits when used with helmets and caps. Participants in activities in which head impacts can occur should always use tested and approved helmets for protection. However, no helmet or supplemental padding can protect the user from all serious head or neck injuries that can result from impacts.