Breaking down the Glasgow Coma Scale

| Apr 8, 2020 | Firm News

Any accident that causes injuries is will almost certainly cause victims (as well as their family members) to experience anxiety. That concern increases when one suffers a traumatic brain injury, as they bring with them a great deal of uncertainty about one’s ability to fully recover. Sadly, such injuries are all too common, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 2.87 million of them occur annually in the U.S. 

Many might think it impossible to know what a TBI victim’s long-term prognosis may be in the immediate aftermath of their injury. The Glasgow Coma Scale, however, may offer some indication. 

What is the Glasgow Coma Scale?  

The Glasgow Coma Scale is a clinical observation test that offers clinicians an idea of exactly how extensive one’s TBI may be. It focuses on the following response categories: 

  • Motor skills 
  • Verbal capacity 
  • Eye movement 

According to the CDC, caregivers assign point values in each of the aforementioned categories (1-4 for eye opening, 1-5 for verbal response, and 1-6 for motor response, respectively). Higher scores indicate that the patient responded closer to the baseline expectation. The scores from each category are then added up to determine a final GCS score. 

Interpreting GCS results 

As previously mentioned, a higher GCS score is indicative of a normal response. Indeed, an overall score above 13 indicates a minor TBI. Scores between 9 and twelve indicate a moderate TBI, and a score of eight or below typically means that one has suffered a serious injury. Such an injury may leave one with extreme physical and/or cognitive impairments for the rest of their life. Even moderate and mild brain injuries, however, can require extensive recovery periods. 

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