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Understanding the glasgow coma scale and what it means


The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) is used to determining a patient’s level of consciousness following a traumatic brain injury in order to assess the level of severity of the injury. A score is assigned after a few simple tests, the lower the score is the more severe the brain injury.

The test is a quite simple one, which is reliable and does a great job diagnosing the consciousness of the victim of an acute brain injury. Although the GCS is such a simple task, it’s very crucial that it is done with complete accuracy—as the medical team will use the score to determine improvement or decompensation of the victim.


The GCS analyzes the patients based on three different bodily responses: eye ppening, motor response, and verbal response.

Each of the three use a scale to find a score ranging from 3 to 15. The lowest being 3 and highest being 15.

Eye Opening

  • Spontaneously - 4 Points
  • Verbal command, speech, or shout - 3 Points
  • Pain - 2 Points
  • No Response - 1 Point

Verbal Response

  • Oriented - 5 Points
  • Confused, but able to answer questions - 4 Points
  • Inappropriate responses - 3 Points
  • Unrecognizable speech - 2 Points
  • No response - 1 Point
  • Motor Response
  • Obeys command - 6 Points
  • Movement to pain - 5 Points
  • Withdraws from pain - 4 Points
  • Abnormal flexion - 3 Points
  • Abnormal extension - 2 Points
  • No response - 1 Point

The lower the score is the more severe the brain injury is. While every brain injury presents different signs and symptoms, the general classification is as follows:

  • Severe - GCS 3-8
  • Moderate - GCS 9-12
  • Mild - 13-15


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Brett Sachs

Brett S. Sachs graduated from Michigan State University College of Law with Cum Laude Honors. While attending Michigan State, Brett was awarded for his service in the Michigan State University College of Law Civil Rights Clinic, where he represented prisoners of the Michigan Department of Corrections from injustices brought upon them. Learn more.

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