How do doctors determine the level of a brain injury?

How do doctors determine the level of a brain injury?

Brain injuries encompass a spectrum of symptoms and harm. A person with a concussion may suffer mild symptoms and have no lingering aftereffects, while a severe brain injury may leave a person in a vegetative state. The types and severity of a brain injury can affect both treatment and expected outcome, which makes it important for medical professionals to assess the injury.

Typically, brain injuries are rated as mild, moderate and severe. These ratings are designed to indicate the extent of the damage and the effects on other body systems. One common scale is the Glascow Coma Scale, which rates injury severity right after injury. It is based off a person’s response to behavioral measures.

The scale measures eye openings, verbal responses and motor responses and assigns points based on patients’ best responses to the assessment. The lower the points, the more severe the injury. Assessments like the Glascow Coma Scale and other tests can help determine the most appropriate treatment for an injury victim.

In addition, the Glascow Outcome Scale can be used to help determine the likelihood that a person with a brain injury will regain his or her independence. The Rancho Los Amigos Scale can be used to assess the consciousness, receptive skills and responsiveness of a person with a brain injury.

The assessments can provide indications for what treatment a brain-injured person needs and the likelihood of recovery, but every patient’s recovery is different. The full effects of a brain injury may not become apparent until a patient is further along in the rehabilitation process.

Source: Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital, “Frequently Asked Questions,” No author or date given;, “What Is the Glasgow Coma Scale?” No author or date given


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