Classifying Traumatic Brain Injuries Using the Glasgow Coma Scale

As a Georgetown child injury lawyer, I often work to protect the rights of children severely injured in a Georgetown car crash or slip and fall accident. Traumatic brain injuries are particularly devastating. They can change everything about a child, including personality and learning ability. When a child suffers a head injury, doctors initially assess the injury using the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS).

The GCS measures three areas: eye opening, verbal responsiveness and motor skills. These areas are tested by medical professionals and the individual scores are added together to determine a cumulative GCS score.

Eye - Patients are graded from 1 to 4 based on their response to eye stimulation:

1 – Eyes do not open at all
2 – Eyes open only in response to pain
3 – Eyes open in response to verbal command, speech or shouting
4 – Eyes open spontaneously and blink normally

Verbal - Patients are graded from 1 to 5 based on their response to verbal stimulation:

1 – Patient does not respond at all
2 – Patient moans or responds in other unintelligible ways
3 – Patient can form words but answers questions inappropriately
4 – Patient responds to questions but is confused and disoriented
5 – Patient is oriented and answers questions appropriately

Motor – Patients are graded from 1 to 6 based on their response to motor stimulation:

1 – Patient does not move at all
2 – Patient extends body rigidly in response to pain—a reflex called decerebrate posturing
3 – Patient flexes the arms in response to pain—a reflex called decorticate posturing
4 – Patient withdraws from source of pain
5 – Patient makes purposeful attempts to push away something that is causing pain
6 – Patient obeys verbal commands to move such as wiggling toes or holding up the requested number of fingers

Once doctors have assessed the patient’s eye, verbal and motor skills, they add the three scores together to make the final GCS score. GCS scores fall between 3 and 15, with lower numbers indicating a more severe brain injury. Doctors use the score to classify the traumatic brain injury as mild, moderate or severe. In addition, they reassess the GCS score in the days following the injury to identify improvement and help predict the long-term outcome.

As a Georgetown child injury attorney, I have helped many families obtain the compensation they deserve for medical services, therapy and care. If your child has suffered a TBI, contact me, David Todd, at 512-472-7799 for a free consultation. You may also wish to download a free copy of my book The Seven Deadly Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Texas Accident Case for additional information.

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