SMU Researchers Looking for Ways to Better Diagnose Concussions

In a new study, SMU researchers are using a transcranial Doppler ultrasound to help in the diagnosis of concussions.


Diagnosing a concussion can be a subjective endeavor, but Southern Methodist University researchers are investigating college athletes’ brains to find more objective signs of a concussion.

“We know this is an understudied area. With other health problems, when the doctor suspects diabetes or hypertension, they don’t guess, they run objective tests to confirm the diagnosis. But that’s not the case with concussion — yet,” said Sushmita Purkayastha, an assistant professor in the Department of Applied Physiology and Wellness at SMU, in a release.

In a new study funded by the Texas Institute for Brain Injury and Repair at UT Southwestern Medical Center, researchers are working to better diagnose concussions by using a transcranial Doppler ultrasound to measure blood vessel function and examine brain blood flow.

“And this method of monitoring blood flow in the brain with ultrasound is noninvasive, inexpensive, and there’s no radiation,” Purkayastha said.

The study will research 200 male and female college athletes within the next two years. Testing began in August, and researchers plan to have study results by fall 2017. 

“The pilot studies so far look promising and our goal is to better understand the mechanism behind injury and design objective markers detecting concussion,” Purkayastha said.

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