Research Grant - 2023

Research Category: Concussion & Traumatic Brain Injury

Dr Jennifer Makovec Knight was the recipient of Brain Foundation grant funding in 2023

Concussion & Traumatic Brain Injury

Concussion & Traumatic Brain Injury
Biomarkers to diagnose concussion when patients are under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs
Dr Jennifer Makovec Knight
Monash University
Co-Investigators : Dr Stuart McDonald, Dr William O’Brien, Prof Biswadev Mitra

Watch Dr Jennifer Makovec Knight accept the research grant award and hear a bit about the project.

Project Summary:

Concussion can be a serious diagnosis exposing patients to both short-term and long-term morbidity. The diagnosis of concussion relies on self-reported symptoms and tests of cognitive function. In Australia, a substantial number of patients sustain head strikes while under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. In these cases, the acute impacts of intoxication render it difficult to obtain a reliable account of the injury event or effectively diagnose concussion. Without reliable diagnoses, patients are at higher risk of repeat injury, and worse outcomes.

Objective markers of brain injury (i.e. biomarkers), can be a valuable adjunct to clinical judgement. We have recently shown that a panel of blood-based biomarkers can distinguish between individuals with and without concussion with high accuracy, however, these markers have not been validated in the setting of exposure to alcohol and/or other drugs.

This study aims to improve diagnostic certainty and outcomes of concussion among patients presenting to the emergency department with signs and symptoms of head injury, but are unable to be assessed using standard subjective reports and cognitive testing because they are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. We will collect blood from these patients in the Emergency Department and quantify levels of blood biomarkers. Our hypothesis is that the levels of blood biomarkers on the day of injury will correlate to symptom severity, and therefore provide evidence on potential utility of biomarkers to predict post-concussion symptoms.

Brain FoundationThe Brain Foundation is the largest, independent funder of brain and spinal injury research in Australia. We believe research is the pathway to recovery.