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December 2019

Understanding the Glasgow Coma Scale

If your loved one is comatose, then their coma is rated on the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). The GCS is a common and important scoring system that helps describe the amount of consciousness a person has after they suffer from a traumatic brain injury.

Acute brain injuries may render a person unconscious, and it’s possible that they may awaken slowly. This is noted with the GSC, since it’s an objective scale describing how the patient’s health is currently and can show how they’ve improved.

How does the Glasgow Coma Scale work?

There are a few functions measured on the Glasgow Coma Scale. These include eye opening, verbal response and motor response. When the Glasgow Coma Scale is used, brain injuries are rated into categories of mild, moderate or severe. The sum, if eight or less, means that the patient has a severe injury. Moderate injuries fall between 9 and 12, while mild are between 13 and 15.

Individual elements also matter, so you may see a note such as E=2, V=3, M=6 to show that the patient has minimal eye or verbal abilities but is able to move and respond.

Are there any problems with the Glasgow Coma Scale?

Yes, there are some issues with the GCS to consider. The GCS isn’t typically used with children, because it isn’t reliable when ranking verbal or motor skills. Instead, children are ranked with a pediatric version of the GCS.

Another problem with the GCS is that it is limited when drug use, alcohol intoxication, low blood oxygen or shock are present. These conditions can alter the patient’s overall level of consciousness, which means that the GCS could have an inaccurate score.

Why is the Glasgow Coma Scale important for your personal injury claim?

It is important, because it’s what helps describe your condition after an accident and can help the judge or others understand how much you’ve improved. If your loved one is in a comatose state, then using this scale helps objectively explain their level of injury and gives you a place to start when discussing how much they’re expected to improve over time.

Your attorney can use the GCS to help negotiate for a fair settlement, since they will be able to see the actual level of the individual’s injury as well as being able to combine this with information from the medical provider to estimate the level of recovery expected.

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