Breaking down the Glasgow Coma Scale

Breaking down the Glasgow Coma Scale

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Perhaps the most jarring news that one can receive aside from hearing that a loved one has unexpectedly died on Westminster is that they have sustained a traumatic brain injury. Such injuries can leave victims in need of lifelong, around-the-clock care, which can exact both a heavy financial and emotional toll on their family members and friends. Yet not all TBI cases turn out like this. Information shared by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons shows that as many as 1.7 million new TBI cases are reported each year in the U.S. Certainly all of those do not result in worst-case scenarios.

How can one know, then, if their loved one has the chance to recover from their TBI? Healthcare providers conduct a clinical observation test immediately upon receiving a TBI victim for treatment. This test gives them an indication of exactly how extensive the victim’s injury may be. Called the Glasgow Coma Scale, it measures a TBI victim’s response in the following areas:

  • Motor skills
  • Communication capabilities
  • Visual response

Point totals are assigned in each of these categories based on the person’s response. Higher scores mean that they are responding as most would, while lower scores may indicate that their brain function may be seriously impaired.

Information shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that TBI victims who register a GCS score between 13-15 have likely suffered a mild TBI (such as a concussion) from which complete recovery is possible (if not probable). Recovery may also be possible for those who have suffered moderate TBI’s (indicated by a score between nine and 12), though they may experience some lingering after-effects (such as issues with cognition). A GCS score lower than eight means that one likely suffered a severe TBI which may require extensive aftercare.