By Angela Davis

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Amazing things can happen when great minds come together.

Doctors from the University of Minnesota, Hennepin County Medical Center and researchers from Abbott Diagnostics just announced they’re launching a joint study on concussions and traumatic brain injury.

“We need to understand what’s actually wrong and how do we treat it,” said Dr. Uzma Samadani, a neurosurgeon at HCMC, known nationally for her research on brain injuries. “That really is what the goal of this study: to figure out what is wrong and how do we treat it.”

The study will look at how patients perform on eye tests that use a high frequency camera to map the positions of the pupils as subjects watch a video.

Samadani says eye tracking may detect injury in the brain that is not visible in a CT scan.

“When someone has a brain injury, when something is wrong in the brain, it affects the eye movements in particular ways,” she said.

A second part of the study will involve blood tests.

“The goal of this study is to look at markers in the blood that indicate which cell types are damaged in the brain,” Samadani said.

She says that MRIs can also tell us more about the brain.

“The MRI scan will be used to look for subtle changes that you don’t see on CT scans, but are key to brain injury,” she said.

With nearly 2 million people sent to emergency rooms each year with traumatic brain injuries, Samadani says doctors need to fine-tune their work and the tools available to them.

“We are in our infancy in concussion treatment,” Samadani said. “In our infancy in concussion diagnosis as well.”

Researchers plan to screen 9,000 trauma patients, but only about 1,000 will be enrolled in the study.

That includes children and adults.

These people will be followed for up to a year, making this one of the most the most comprehensive brain injury studies in the country.

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