New Documentary on Concussions to Air on MontanaPBS

October 28, 2015

MISSOULA – A new documentary telling the intertwined story of the promising research undertaken by two University of Montana scientists and the real experiences of two athletes recovering from concussions is set to debut on MontanaPBS in November.

“Concussion: Answers in the Blood?” premieres at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10. It also will air at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12; at 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 15; and at 5 a.m. Monday, Nov. 16. It will be available to watch online beginning Saturday, Nov. 14, at

Concussions, particularly in the sports arena, are at the forefront of people’s minds as new information surfaces about their potentially damaging effects on some athletes. While concussion awareness is on the rise and current diagnostic protocols are improving, concussion diagnosis still relies heavily on observed symptoms and self-reporting by athletes. Now, a team of scientists at UM is attempting to develop a blood test to provide a definitive diagnosis for concussions.

Tom Rau and Sarj Patel, scientists in UM’s Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy, are in the early stages of promising research to discover biomarkers in the blood that indicate how the brain reacts following a traumatic brain injury. The film tracks a year of their research, results and quest for funding to continue their work. 

The documentary follows two athletes with concussions: Payton Agnew, a UM women’s soccer player, and Bridger Skillicorn, a member of a high school football team. The athletes, trainers and parents face uncertainty and frustration as they follow current protocols and attempt to assess their healing in efforts to determine whether they can safely return to play.

There are still many unanswered questions that need to be addressed. Will Rau and Patel’s research lead to blood tests that will provide a more definitive diagnosis, treatment and assessment of concussions for athletes? Only time will tell.

For more information call MontanaPBS Producer John Twiggs at 406-243-4565 or email

Contact: John Twiggs, MontanaPBS producer, 406-243-4565,