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What Is the Glasgow Coma Scale for Brain Injuries?


When a person suffers a brain injury, the Glasgow Coma Scale is often used to determine the extent of the injuries. The higher the score, the less likely severe brain damage in the person is. Anyone who has a loved one who suffered a brain injury should understand some basic points about the GCS.

What Is Measured by the GCS?

The GCS measures three categories — eye-opening, verbal interaction and motor skills. Each of those three categories has different levels of skills that are assigned a number. For example, a person who doesn’t open their eyes at all gets a score of 1, a person who has no verbal interaction gets a score of 1 and a person with no motor skills gets a score of 1. When added together, that would be a total of 3 points.

What Do the Scores Mean?

A person who has a score of 13 or greater is said to have a mild brain injury. A person with a score of 9 to 13 is said to have a moderate brain injury. A person with a score of 8 or less is said to have suffered a severe injury to the brain.

What Is the Purpose of the GCS?

The GCS helps to guide physicians when they are making a care plan for a person who suffered a brain injury. On top of the score, the person’s age, health history and a host of other factors are also considered.

If your loved one has suffered a brain injury, you should work with the medical care team to determine the extent of the injury to the brain. That is a starting point for the road to recovery. If the accident was caused by another person’s negligence, explore your options for seeking compensation.

Source: Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, “Brain Injury: Severity Levels and the Recovery Process,” accessed Dec. 21, 2015