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Brain Trauma Facts

"Luke Bernard arrived at the hospital with a Glasgow Coma Scale of 3 with dilated and fixed pupils which means he had no chance for survival. It would be a good recovery for him to live in a vegetative state."

The Glasgow Coma Scale is based on a 15 point scale for estimating and categorizing the outcomes of brain injury on the basis of overall social capability or dependence on others.

The test measures the motor response, verbal response and eye opening response with these values:

I. Motor Response
6 – Obeys commands fully
5 – Localizes to noxious stimuli
4 – Withdraws from noxious stimuli
3 – Abnormal flexion, i.e. decorticate posturing
2 – Extensor response, i.e. decerebrate posturing
1 – No response

II. Verbal Response
5 – Alert and Oriented
4 – Confused, yet coherent, speech
3 – Inappropriate words and jumbled phrases consisting of words
2 – Incomprehensible sounds
1 – No sounds

III. Eye Opening
4 – Spontaneous eye opening
3 – Eyes open to speech
2 – Eyes open to pain
1 – No eye opening

The final score is determined by adding the values of I+II+III.

This number helps medical practioners categorize the four possible levels for survival, with a lower number indicating a more severe injury and a poorer prognosis:

Mild (13-15):

  • More in-depth discussion on the Mild TBI Symptoms page.
    Moderate Disability (9-12):
  • Loss of consciousness greater than 30 minutes
  • Physical or cognitive impairments which may or may resolve
  • Benefit from Rehabilitation
    Severe Disability (3-8):
  • Coma: unconscious state.  No meaningful response, no voluntary activities
    Vegetative State (Less Than 3):
  • Sleep wake cycles
  • Aruosal, but no interaction with environment
  • No localized response to pain
    Persistent Vegetative State:
  • Vegetative state lasting longer than one month
    Brain Death:
  • No brain function
  • Specific criteria needed for making this diagnosis



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