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How is the severity of a brain injury measured?

If you have a loved one who recently experienced a head injury, you probably have a variety of concerns. One of your main concerns is likely to be over the severity of the injury, but how is such a thing even measured?

Traumatic brain injuries must be identified and treated quickly. The Glasgow Coma Scale is one common way medical teams can quickly identify and assess someone's condition.

What is the Glasgow Coma Scale?

The Glasgow Coma Scale is a 15-point test that can be administered right away to assess the initial severity of a brain injury and again later to determine how the injury has progressed.

It works by measuring someone's ability to respond to stimuli. It documents eyes opening, verbal responses and motor responses.

The person administering the test document's the injured person's abilities, which have a corresponding point value. For example, if the injured person opens his or her eyes to sound, they would get three points. If they, have a verbal response that involves sounds but no words, they would get another two points.

Someone can score between 3 and 15. The higher a score is, the less severe someone's injury is.

What else do doctors consider?

In addition to the Glasgow Coma Scale, medical staff may consider other details about the injury when assessing its severity. Some relevant details may include how the injury occurred, how long the person was unconscious and where the impact occurred.

Doctors may also gather data from imaging tests. This may include a computerized tomography (CT) scan or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.

Because every person is completely unique, every head injury is also unique. This can make their effects difficult to measure, compare and predict. However, educating yourself on the Glasgow Coma Scale and other related tools may help you to better understand your loved one's condition and better communicate with your loved one's medical team.

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