What You Need to Know About the Glasgow Coma Scale

Clinical Expertise

Mar 10, 2016

When a loved one suffers a traumatic brain injury the consequences can be devastating to families and friends. It is hard to know what to expect, what to look for, or what the potential is for recovery. Fortunately there is a dependable tool that can help provide answers.

In order to determine the severity of the injury, clinicians use a standard scoring system known as the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). It is an objective way to guide care during those first minutes, hours and days following the injury.

The GCS measures three things:

Eye Opening – (1-4)

Verbal Response – (1-5)

Motor Response – (1-6)

Each response category is rated separately, with a score of 1 meaning no activity. For example, if a patient does not open their eyes, even to the sound of a voice or in reaction to a painful stimulus, then they would be rated a 1 for Eye Opening. But if they are able to open their eyes on their own they would be a 4.

To determine the total GCS, the scores from each category are added together. They range from 3 to 15. A GCS score of 13 or higher is considered a mild brain injury, 9 to 12 is moderate and 8 or less is considered severe. Some include a fourth category with a score of less than or equal to 5 being considered catastrophic.

Long-term outcomes following a brain injury can be very hard to predict, but knowing the severity of an injury is important in order to maximize the opportunity for recovery.

Brooks has over 40 years of experience helping survivors of severe brain injury maximize their potential for recovery and participation in life. To learn more about all of our Brain Injury Programs click here.


Translate »