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About Brain Injury

Glasgow Coma Scale

The treatment team will use the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) to evaluate a person’s level of consciousness (LOC) and the severity of brain injury by attempting to elicit body movements (M), opening of the eyes (E), and verbal responses (V).

Clinicians use the three values separately and collectively to make medical decisions and monitor the patient’s progress. This scale is typically used very early in the treatment process.

(M) Motor Response (E) Eye Opening (V) Verbal Response
(6) Follows commands (4) Natural (5) Oriented & converses
(5) Localizes to pain (3) To voice (4) Disoriented & converses
(4) Withdrawal to pain (2) To pain (3) Inappropriate words
(3) Decorticate (1) No response (2) Incomprehensible sounds
(2) Decerebrate   (1) No response
(1) No response  

GCS scores range from 15 to 3

GCS Total Score Level of Brain Injury
13 to 15 Mild Brain Injury
9 to 12 Moderate Brain Injury
3 to 8 Severe Brain Injury

Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS)

The Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) is a brief, one-item descriptive assessment utilized by the treatment team following brain injury. The GOS is helpful in determining next steps in the individual’s care, but is not useful in detecting small, gradual improvements.

There are five possible descriptive measures in the GOS:

  • Dead (Severe injury or death without recovery of consciousness)
  • Vegetative (Severe damage with prolonged state of unresponsiveness and a lack of higher mental functions)
  • Severely Disabled (Severe injury with permanent need for help with daily living)
  • Moderately Disabled (No need for assistance in everyday life; Employment is possible but may require special equipment)
  • Good Recovery (Light damage with minor neurological and psychological deficits)

Speak to a Brain Injury Expert

Caring professionals at the National Brain Injury Information Center (NBIIC) are ready to answer your questions.

Dial 1-800-444-6443