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Breaking down the Glasgow Coma Scale

No one in Gainesville wants to hear the words "traumatic brain injury" associated with anyone that they know and love. A TBI can leave one completely dependent on the care of others for the rest of their lives. Such care typically includes extensive medical treatment and/or rehabilitation, and may even require family members to quit or change jobs in order to provide continual monitoring and support. Then again, there are also TBI's whose effects are short-term and from which victims can make a full recovery. What worries people is that immediately after one sustains a TBI, it seems impossible to know which outcome will occur. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that TBI's result in 2.5 million hospital emergency department visits and 282,000 hospitalizations every year. The clinicians treating these patients actually do have a system through which certain clinical indicators may offer a glimpse at a patient's prognosis. This system is known as the Glasgow Coma Scale. A GCS score is determined by measuring a patient's ability to open their eyes, speak coherently and respond to external stimuli. Point values are assigned to response levels in each category, and are then aggregated to come up with a final score. 

Per information shared by the CDC, the GCS score breakdown is as follows: 

  • 13-15 points: a mild head injury 
  • 9-12 points: a moderate head injury 
  • Less than 8 points: a severe head injury 

While a GCS score cannot describe what the exact outcomes of a TBI may be, it can offer a victim's family an expectation of what may be ahead. This information may be vital in a family's plans to secure the care needed to help deal with their loved one's TBI. 

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