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Understanding the Glasgow Coma Scale

On Behalf of | Apr 17, 2020 | personal injury

Attaching the word “traumatic” to brain injuries can make them seem extremely severe and, by extension, uncommon. Yet that is not the case. Indeed, according to information shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are at least 2.87 million TBI cases reported in the U.S. each year.

Some of these injuries may be simply concussions to extensive brain injuries. The family and friends of TBI victims want to know immediately after such injuries occur which category their loved ones fall into. Knowing that may be possible thanks to the Glasgow Coma Scale.

Determining TBI severity through observation

Per the CDC, the Glasgow Coma Scale measures a TBI victim’s responses to external stimuli. Specifically, clinicians want to see the following:

  • How well the victim responds verbally
  • How active the victim’s eye movement is
  • How acute the victim’s motor skills are

Each response category has its own point value, and the cumulative totals from all three provide an overall score. That score contributes to determining a TBI victim’s long-term prognosis.

Predicting recovery potential

Caregivers classify those who register a GCS score between 13 and 15 points as having suffered a mild TBI. Most would expect to recover from such an injury; however, they may have to deal with some lingering issues. A score between nine and 12 indicates a moderate brain injury. Those who have suffered such an injury may indeed recover, though the process may be extensive and may still leave them with physical or cognitive deficits.