Past posts on this blog addressed the long-term effects of a traumatic brain injury and how debilitating one can be for your loved one. As you plan for their care in the future, their long-term prognosis will no doubt have a significant impact. Yet is such a prognosis possible to know in the immediate aftermath of their injury?
A severe TBI can leave your loved one dependent on round-the-clock care for the rest of their lives; on the other hand, they could completely recover from a mild TBI in a few days. A clinical observation test known as the Glasgow Coma Scale can offer you an indication of which of those outcomes they may face.
Determinations based on responses
The Glasgow Coma Scale measures your loved one’s responses in the following areas:
- Eye movement
- Verbal responses
- Motor skills
Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, clinicians assign a point value for each category (1-4 for eye movement, 1-5 for verbal responses and 1-6 for motor skills, respectively). They then sum the point totals for each category to come up with an overall score. Higher scores in each category indicate a response closer to the clinical baseline, so you should hope for a higher overall score.
GCS score categories
Indeed, a GCS score of 13 or above indicates a mild TBI, which is comparable to a concussion. A complete recovery from such an injury is possible (if not likely), yet your loved one still may experience some lingering effects. Scores between 9 and 12 indicate a moderate brain injury, from which a degree of recovery may be possible (although they may have to deal with certain cognitive and/or physical deficits). A score of eight or below indicates a severe TBI, from which there may be no recovery.