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Interpreting a Glasgow Coma Scale score

Several of those that we here at Phillips, Phillips, and Smith-Delach, LLC have worked with in the past in Pittsburgh describe those minutes after their loved ones have experienced brain injuries to be incredibly traumatic. You likely know what they mean if you have been through such an experience yourself. You may witness healthcare professionals administering treatment and using jargon that is difficult to understand. This may include seemingly random numbers, which are in fact scores detailing your family member or friend’s level of consciousness. Understanding this scoring system may help you know to what extent he or she is injured, and to what degree he or she may recover.

The scoring system used to describe traumatic brain injuries in known as the Glasgow Coma Scale. According to the website BrainLine.org, it measures your loved one’s various methods of response to stimuli on the following scales:

  •          Eye opening: 1-4
  •          Verbal response: 1-5
  •          Motor response: 1-6

Higher scores in each category indicate a more normal level of response. Together, the scores from each category are accumulated to come up with a final GCS.

Glasgow Come Scale scores between 13-15 indicate a mild brain injury. Your family member or friend may experience temporary neurological deficits following such an injury, or even permanent symptoms in rare cases. In such an event, his or her recovery prognosis may be good.

Moderate brain injuries are indicated with a GCS between 9-12, while a GCS between 3-8 indicates a severe brain injury. The exact extent of damage your loved one may have suffered may not be known until confirmatory tests have taken place, but it may be reasonably assumed that he or she could end up suffering long-term physical, emotional or cognitive impairments.

More information on understanding brain injuries can be found here on our site. 

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