Glasgow Coma Scale Used to Assess and Classify Traumatic Brain Injuries

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), slip and fall accidents and motor vehicle crashes are the top two causes of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the United States. Every year, nearly half a million children ages 0 – 14 visit emergency rooms with brain injuries. While many children recover fully, others suffer permanent, debilitating effects.

When a Bastrop car crash or slip and fall accident leaves a child with a head injury, doctors evaluate the child for a traumatic brain injury. Doctors use an assessment tool called the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) to determine the extent and severity of the injury. Neurosurgery professors at the University of Glasgow developed this tool in 1974 to provide a simple and objective way to assess traumatic brain injuries.

Medical professionals use the GCS immediately following the trauma as a way to describe the brain injury. They also use the GCS to measure improvement in the days following the injury. The GCS evaluates the following:

  • Eye opening – how the eyes respond to speech or pain
  • Verbal responsiveness – how well the patient can answer questions
  • Motor skills – how the patient moves in response to verbal commands or pain

Doctors evaluate the three areas—eye opening, verbal responsiveness and motor skills—and assign a point value to each one. These points are then added together to come up with the GCS score. GCS scores fall between 3 and 15, with lower numbers indicating a more severe brain injury. For example, a normal, alert person would receive a 15 on the GCS, while a person in a deep coma would receive a 3.

Based on the GCS score, doctors are then able to classify the traumatic brain injury as mild, moderate, or severe:

  • Mild – GCS greater than 12
  • Moderate – GCS between 9 and 12
  • Severe – GCS less than 9

In addition to being a way to evaluate and describe a brain injury, the GCS is also a good predictor of long-term recovery from a TBI. Generally, the higher the GCS score, the better the recovery will be. If your child has suffered a TBI due to the negligence or carelessness of another party, contact Bastrop child injury attorney David Todd. Call 512-472-7799 today for a prompt and free case review. You can also download a free copy of his book The Seven Deadly Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Texas Accident Case for additional information.