Glasgow Coma Scale
When a traumatic brain injury occurs, doctors declare the level of severity through determining a patient’s score on the Glasgow Coma Scale. The scale is a three part tests that measures motor, verbal, and eye opening responses of the injured. Within each section, points are given to the patient based on their condition.
The motor response section of the test gives up to six points. Points given are based off of the patient’s demonstrated condition: one for no response, two for extensor response, three for abnoral flexion, four for withdraws from noxious stimuli, five for localizes to noxious stimuli, and five for obeys command fully.
Secondly, the patient can receive up to five points for their verbal response. From one to five, they are no sounds, incomprehensible sounds, inappropriate words and jumbled phrases consisting of words, then confused yet coherent speech, and alert/oriented.
Lastly, eye opening is tested on a four point basis. One point is given to no eye opening, two for eyes open to pain, three for eyes open to speech, and four for spontaneous eye opening.
Once points are determined per section, they are added together. Doctors use the total number of points to determine the level of conciousness, which translates to the patient’s level for survival. A mild state is declared for a total score of 13-15, moderate disability for 9-12, severe disability for 2-8, and vegetative state for less than 3. If the vegetative state lasts longer than one month, a permanent vegetative state is declared. The most severe level for a patient’s outcome is when they are declared brain dead, meaning they lack all brain function.
All traumatic brain injuries can be measured on the Glasgow Coma Scale. Once the level of consciousness is determined by a doctor, procedures to take can ensue.