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Understanding the Glasgow Coma Scale and What It Means

Understanding the Glasgow Coma Scale and What It Means

Understanding the Glasgow Coma Scale and What It Means

The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) was created as a way to communicate the level of consciousness of patients following a traumatic 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.

Calculating a Victim’s Glasgow Coma Score

The GCS analyzes the patients based on three different bodily responses:

  • Eye Opening

  • Motor Response

  • 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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