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Breaking down the Glasgow Coma Scale

The rise in public awareness regarding brain injuries and their outcomes now prompts many in Ocean County to panic upon receiving news that someone they love has suffered one. Their concerns are understandable; a traumatic brain injury can result in consequences that need to continue to be dealt with years or even decades after having occurred. They are more common than many think, as well, with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that 2.8 million people in the U.S. required treatment for such injuries in 2013 alone. 

Yet not all brain injuries produce devastating outcomes. How can one know what the long-term prognosis is for their loved ones that have suffered TBIs? Researchers and clinicians have developed a series of tests that, when conducted immediately after a TBI occurs, can offer an idea as to how severe it may be. This test is known as the Glasgow Coma Scale. 

Per the CDC, one's GCS score is determined by measuring their response in the following areas: 

  • Eyes opening
  • Speech
  • Motor skills

Point values are assigned in each category, with higher point totals indicating standard responses. Those values are then added up to determine an overall score. The highest score possible is 15; the lowest is three. 

Patients who score between 3-8 on the GCS are considered comatose and will likely require lifelong care if they are able to regain consciousness. Anyone with a score between 9-12 is said to have a mild brain injury. Such a patient may recover to certain degree, yet may still be left with physical or cognitive deficits throughout his or her life. A GCS score above 13 indicates a mild brain injury, for which the likelihood of a complete recovery without any long-term effects is relatively high. 

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