Researchers sniff out brain injury breakthrough

Severe injuries require immediate medical attention, and in emergency situations, doctors must work quickly to establish the best course of treatment. Brain injury victims may appear unresponsive, making it difficult for medical personnel to obtain critical information to properly diagnose and treat a brain injury. Maryland residents may be shocked to learn that the diagnostic error rate is about 40% in these situations. 

Researchers spent years proving the effectiveness of a new test that can drastically increase the chances of a quick and accurate diagnosis. The test does not rely on some fancy new technology, but on the injured brain itself. Coined “the sniff test,” small samples of a potent smell, like bath products or stinky fish, are held under an unresponsive patient’s nose. A special tube inserted in the nose measures the brain’s response through breathing. 

Unresponsive brain injury victims commonly blink their eyes or appear to wake up, but often this is just relax, not a response to stimuli. Doctors waste precious time trying to figure out if a victim is likely to regain conscious. After several years of trials, 100% of the victims that responded to the sniff test later regained consciousness. The sooner a doctor can accurately predict what to expect, the sooner a victim can begin proper treatment, which is an enormous breakthrough when each second counts for the victim. 

If an unresponsive victim is fortunate enough to regain consciousness, he or she may still face a lifetime of pain and difficulty. If a Maryland victim’s injury was caused by another party, legal recourse may be available. Brain injury victims commonly struggle with confusion, fatigue and irritability, making the legal process seem daunting, but help is available in the form of a compassionate attorney. An attorney can help a client prepare a civil case against the party at fault and present evidence to work towards a favorable verdict that may include a monetary award or settlement. Monetary compensation from legal action can help a victim offset medical bills, loss of wages due to inability to work, the costs of physical and mental rehabilitation, and other expenses. 

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