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Getting to know the Glasgow Coma Scale

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2019 | Personal Injury Law

Traumatic brain injuries can exact a heavy toll on those in Birmingham who suffer them. Depending on the severity of their injuries, TBI victims may be back on their feet in a couple of days, or they could be dependent on round-the-clock care for the rest of their lives. 

In the immediate aftermath of their injuries, an accident victim’s families and loved ones usually want to know which of those outcomes they should anticipate. While knowing for certain may be impossible, caregivers can often offer a reasonable prognosis thanks to the Glasgow Coma Scale. 

Forecasting the severity of a TBI 

Given the command the brain has over the body’s functions, the functional limitations witnessed with TBI victims following their injuries can serve as an indication of the damage that the brain sustained. That is the reasoning behind the Glasgow Coma Scale. It is a clinical observation test that measures a TBI victim’s responses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the GCS focuses primarily on the following areas: 

  • Motor skills 
  • Eye-opening 
  • Verbal skills 

A specific example would be observing a TBI victim’s eye movements. Are they normal, remaining open with intermittent blinking, or can the victim barely open them at all? Based on the responses in each of the aforementioned categories, caregivers assign an overall score that indicates how severe any brain injury that may have occurred might be. 

Higher scores indicate that a person’s responses are closer to the normal baseline, with a GCS score above 13 indicating a mild TBI. Scores of eight or below indicate a severe brain injury. 

Planning for the future 

Knowing a TBI victim’s GCS score can be helpful to those who must care for them. It also can influence the decision to seek compensation from the person or party responsible for the events that led to the injuries. Even mild brain injuries can require long-term care to help deal with cognitive deficits. 



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