Understanding the Glasgow Coma Score

The family and friends of those in Lake Charles who suffer traumatic brain injuries almost all share the same question: To what extent will their loved ones recover? That depends largely on each TBI victim’s diagnosis. In the immediate aftermath of an accident that leaves one with a TBI, the grief that his or her family and friends feel might make it difficult to fully process the information that doctors share with them. Yet if there is one element that they will want to remember, it is their loved ones’ Glasgow Coma Score. 

A person’s GCS is determined by their response to external stimuli following a TBI. Clinicians will measure how well his or her eyes open, how well he or she responds to verbal communication, and his or her motor response. According to Brainline.org, numeric scores are assigned to each category as follows: 

  • Eye opening: 4-1
  • Verbal response: 5-1
  • Motor response: 6-1

Scores are listed in descending order according to severity. A GCS between 3-8 indicates a severe brain injury has occurred, while 9-12 signifies a moderate TBI. Cases with scores higher than 13 are considered mild. 

It may go without saying that those who suffer a mild TBI have a better chance at making a full recovery. Indeed, information shared by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons shows that while those who sustain such injuries may experience headaches and vertigo, such symptoms are likely to improve over time. The prognosis is much bleaker for moderate or severe TBI patients. AANS data shows the 7-10 percent of those with a moderate TBI while die or remain in a persistent vegetative state, with an additional 25 percent developing a long-term disability. Roughly 33 percent of severe TBI cases end in death, with only 25-33 experiencing of those who survive reporting positive outcomes.