It may seem strange to assign someone a coma rating when they are sitting up and talking. However, if you are in an ambulance on your way to Truman Medical Center, the answers to these questions can prove useful to the doctors that are about to treat you—especially if your condition worsens during the ride.
How Coma Ratings Indicate Brain Injury After a Crash
There are a number of ways EMTs and doctors will try to measure the extent of a brain injury, including:
- Loss of consciousness. Doctors will often use the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) to evaluate eye function, body movements, and verbal response to judge how well a person’s brain is functioning after a crash. A patient who is fully conscious may be rated at 15 (the highest score), while a score of 9 indicates that the person has emerged from a coma but is not yet fully awake.
- Changes in ratings. Emergency personnel may also use the changes in a patient’s answers and responses to evaluate how his condition is progressing. This is why a victim’s first GCS score is often done at the accident site or in an ambulance by emergency responders, taken again upon arrival at the hospital, tested after surgery, and continually evaluated as a person recovers under hospital supervision.
- Post-traumatic amnesia. Another factor doctors use to assess the severity of a brain injury is post-traumatic amnesia. Patients often cannot remember names, the date, or other important information after a severe blow to the head, or may repeat things throughout a conversation. The longer this period of amnesia lasts, the more likely it is that the patient has suffered severe brain damage.
Remember: there are many ways to examine the extent of a brain injury, but every patient will recover at a different rate. To learn how to make your loved one’s next few months as comfortable and relaxed as possible, click the link on this page to read through our free report, Brain Injury Survivor’s Guide.