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Breaking down the Glasgow Coma Scale

The fear that you feel after a family member or close friend sustains a traumatic brain injury often comes from simply not knowing what to expect for them going forward. You want to know whether they will recover, and to what degree, and what sort of support they will need. Unfortunately, knowing that in the immediate aftermath of their injury may seem impossible. 

At least, that is the assumption of many of those that come to see us here at Ward & Glass LLP. In reality, however, there is a way for and others impacted by a loved one’s TBI to at least have an indication about what their long-term prognosis may be. 

Estimations made from clinical observations 

Healthcare practitioners employ a clinical observation test known as the Glasgow Coma Scale that offers an idea of how extensive a person’s TBI might actually be. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the response categories clinicians specifically focus on include: 

  • Eye movement 
  • Motor skills 
  • Verbal responses 

Your hope is that your loved one’s responses in these areas are closer to the expected baseline (e.g. they are able to follow another’s movements with their eyes, they respond in clear, concise sentences). Whatever they may be, caregivers observe them and then assign a point value for each of the aforementioned areas. These points cumulatively make up an overall score that provides the indication of the extent of the injury. 

GCS injury categories 

If your loved one’s score is over 13, it means they likely have a mild brain injury. A score between nine and 12 indicates a moderate brain injury, while one below eight indicates a severe brain injury. Each injury category will require distinct elements of recovery. 

You can learn more about dealing with catastrophic injuries by continuing to browse through our site.