What is the Glasgow Coma Scale?

What the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) reveals is an indication of the severity of patients’ level of consciousness after they have suffered a traumatic brain injury, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), affects more than 1.7 million Americans every year. 

The scale evaluates the patient’s: 

  • motor;
  • verbal; and
  • eye opening responses and assigns each of these factors a set number of points, depending on the patient’s response.

The points are added up to determine the severity of the trauma and the patient’s state of consciousness. If the brain injury is the result of another’s negligence, victims or their families may pursue an injury claim for damages with help from a Cleveland, Ohio injury lawyer.

How the Glasgow Coma Scale Breaks Down 

In total, there are 15 possible points on the Glasgow Coma Scale. The patient’s eye opening response can earn up to four points, the verbal response up to five, and the motor response up to six. 

Here is how points are assigned: 

  • Eye opening response – If the patient can spontaneously open his or her eyes, four points are assigned. If the patient opens the eyes only to voices, it is three points, or in response to pain, it is two points. If the patient is unable to open his/her eyes at all, one point is assigned.
  • Verbal response – If the patient can willingly participate in normal conversation, it is five points. If the patient can participate in conversation, but is disoriented, it’s four points. If the patient can speak only incoherent words, it’s three points, only sounds, it’s two points. Finally, if unable to give any sort of verbal response, it’s one point.
  • Motor response – If the patient has the ability to move on command, six points are assigned. If the patient can intentionally move in response to pain, it’s five points or, if the patient simply withdraws from pain, it’s four points.

If the patient shows decorticate posture, in which the fists are clenched, legs are straight out and arms are bent inward, it’s three points. Decerebrate posture, noted by rigidity, arms held straight out and downward pointing toes, is two points. If the patient is unable to respond physically at all, it is one point.

Once each response is given a score, the three categories are added. The final total score indicates the severity of the trauma, with 13 to 15 being mild, nine to 12 being moderate and three to eight being severe. Victims and their families may discuss with a Cleveland, Ohio injury lawyer what results of the test may mean for a legal claim.

Glasgow Coma Scale after a Brain Injury: Cleveland, Ohio Injury Lawyer Can Evaluate Legal Options 

The GCS is commonly used after a traumatic head or brain injury. Cleveland victims who have been subjected to any such injury because of another person’s mistake or negligence may explore legal options for an brain injury claim with a Cleveland, Ohio injury lawyer, who can help assess what a doctor’s prognosis based on what the Glasgow Coma Scale says means for potential financial compensation in a claim.