Detailing the Glasgow Coma Scale

Past posts on this blogs detailed the potential impact a traumatic brain injury can have on the life of a motorcyclist. They have also touched upon the fact that helmet use (while certainly helpful in preventing them) cannot eliminate the potential of a TBI occurring altogether. Indeed, information shared by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that among motorcycle accident injuries, 15% and 21% involved TBI’s suffered by helmeted and unhelmeted riders, respectively.

When one suffers a TBI, the first question that family members typically have is what their long-term prognosis may be. Estimating that is possible thanks to the Glasgow Coma Scale.

Determining brain injury severity

The Glasgow Coma Scale is a clinical observation test that clinicians rely on to determine the extent of a traumatic brain injury. One’s responses to external stimuli drive the conclusions made from this test. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the three areas observed are:

  • Eye movement
  • Motor skills
  • Verbal responses

Each response category generates an individual score, and all three added together generate an overall score. Caretakers then base a patient’s prognosis based on that overall score.

Breaking down GCS scores

A higher over GCS score indicates a better probability of recovery. Scores between 13-15 indicate mild injuries. Victims may expect to recover within a few days (although some effects may linger). A score between nine and 12 describes a moderate brain injury. Moderate TBI victims typically achieve some degree of recovery, yet they may be letting dealing with physical or cognitive deficits. A GCS score of eight or below indicates a severe brain injury. Complete recovery from such an injury is usually unlikely, and victims may require extensive care and rehabilitation for the rest of their lives.