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Can saliva diagnose concussion? The English Premiership is taking part in a trial to find out

Payers with confirmed or suspected concussion will provide saliva samples immediately following the injury.

The trial will start this season.
The trial will start this season.
Image: Paul Harding/PA Images

THERE IS CURRENTLY no reliable objective test for the diagnosis of concussion, but the English Premiership and Championship have signed up for a trial that is hoping to change that.

Led by neurosurgeon Professor Tony Belli, the trial will take place during the 2017/18 season and see players with confirmed or suspected concussion give a saliva sample immediately after the injury.

They will give follow-up samples as they undergo the return-to-play protocols.

These saliva samples will then be compared to players from the same game who did not suffer a head injury and those who suffered other injuries.

Belli told the BBC:

“The University of Birmingham recently made a significant breakthrough after identifying molecules, which can be found in saliva and act as biomarkers to indicate whether the brain has suffered injury.

“If these biomarkers are found reliable, we can continue our work with industrial partners with the hope to have a device available within the next two years that will instantaneously diagnose concussion on the pitch-side with the same accuracy as in the laboratory – a major step forward for both sport and medicine.”

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Steve O'Rourke

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