A new type of blood test is being used to detect mild traumatic brain injury, Army researchers have announced.

It is the first blood test for use in evaluating mild TBI to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to a Feb. 14 release from the Army Medical Materiel Development Activity.

“There are blood tests for many diseases on the market, but this is the first one dedicated to traumatic brain injury,” said Army Lt. Col. Kara Schmid, project manager for the Neurotrauma and Psychological Health Project Management Office at the USAMMDA at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

“For the first time, medical personnel won’t have to rely only on a description of the incident and symptoms, but will have access to an objective marker of injury to the brain, all from a simple blood test,” Schmid said. “This test holds promise to change the practice of medicine for brain injury.”

The goal is to have the blood test ready for fielding to the force in the next year to 18 months, Schmid told Military Times.

The blood test can help fill a critical need to quickly evaluate injured troops in remote locations, where there is a “knowledge gap” in assessing how severe the injury is, said Army Col. Sidney Hinds, coordinator of the DoD Brain Health Research Program.