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What Is the Glasgow Coma Scale and How Does It Work?

In the United States, roughly 2.8 million people will sustain some form of traumatic brain injury each year. It is one of the top contributing factors of deaths, causing 150+ fatalities every day. These numbers show the severity at which traumatic brain injuries can occur.

Not all brain injuries have severe symptoms, though, so people may not even recognize that they have had a TBI. One method that may be used to determine the presence of a TBI and its severity is the Glasgow Coma Scale.

How TBI Victims are Tested

With the Glasgow Coma Scale, individuals are tested regarding a number of typical human functions that may be affected should a brain injury occur. This includes the ability of the victim to open their eyes, how well they respond verbally, and their overall motor responses.

Each of these functions is then given a number rating system to help show how well they are able to perform in each. The final numbers earned on each function are then added up and it is the total of that amount that is used to determine the level of brain injury sustained.

  • Tests involving eye opening functions range from NT to 4 and include the following:
    • Non-testable (NT)
    • Not opening at all (1)
    • Opening to pressure (2)
    • Opening to sound (3)
    • Spontaneously opening (4)
  • Tests involving verbal response range from NT to 5 and include the following:
    • Non-testable (NT)
    • No verbal responses (1)
    • Making sounds, but no words (2)
    • Saying words, but not coherent (3)
    • Speaking, but confused (4)
    • Orientated verbally (5)
  • Tests involving motor response range from NT to 6 and include the following:
    • Non-testable (NT)
    • No motor response (1)
    • Extension of motor function (2)
    • Abnormal flexion (3)
    • Normal flexion (4)
    • Localizing motor function (5)
    • Obeying commands (6)

When the numbers are tallied, the higher the total the less severe the brain injury. According to the Glasgow Coma Scale, a score of 13 to 15 would indicate the individual sustained a mild brain injury. A score of 9 to 12 indicates a moderate brain injury, and anything 8 or below results in a diagnosis for a severe traumatic brain injury.

At Caputo & Van Der Walde, we recognize that traumatic brain injuries can come in a number of forms. In times where these significant injuries are caused by negligence, the victim deserves the right to seek compensation. Our San Jose brain injury attorneys will be with you every step of the way.