Brain Injury:

Glasgow Coma Scale

The Glasgow Coma Scale is a test doctors used to determine the severity of a traumatic brain injury. The Glasgow Coma Scale is a 15 point scale which categorizes a traumatic brain injury based on overall social capability and dependence on others. This is a form of brain injury diagnostic testing that measures motor skills, verbal skills and eye opening response.

Motor Response

  • 1 – No response
  • 2 – Extensor response
  • 3 – Abnormal flexion to pain
  • 4 – Flexion or withdrawal from pain
  • 5 – Purposeful movements towards painful stimuli
  • 6 – Obeys commands

Verbal Response

  • 1 – No sounds
  • 2 – Unintelligible noises
  • 3 – Jumbled phrases, inappropriate words
  • 4 – Confused but coherent speech
  • 5 – Coherent and appropriate speech

Eye Opening

  • 1 – No eye opening
  • 2 – Eye opening in response to pain
  • 3 – Eye opening to speech
  • 4 – Spontaneous eye opening

To determine the severity of the brain injury, the doctor will add the scores from each section. This number helps doctors categorize the four levels for survival, with a lower score indicating a more serious brain injury and a poorer outlook:

Mild Brain Injury (13-15 points)

  • Headaches
  • Visual disturbances
  • Poor concentration
  • Loss of balance
  • Mood changes
  • Sensitivity to lights and sounds

Moderate Brain Injury (9-12 points)

  • Unconscious for 30 minutes or longer
  • Physical or cognitive impairments
  • Benefit from rehabilitation

Severe Brain Injury (3-8 points)

  • Coma, which is indicated by an unconscious state, no meaningful response and no voluntary activities

Vegetative State (3 or less points)

  • Sleep wake cycles
  • No localize response to pain
  • Arousal, but no interaction with environment

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