The medical testing for a head injury or traumatic brain injury includes the following:

The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) for Head Injury

The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) is a neurological scale used to objectively record the conscious state of a person, often by first responders to head injuries to determine level of consciousness.  However, it not that useful after the initial assessment of the injury because brain function fluctuates and changes across time. GCS is also affected by alcohol and drugs.  The GCS is a quick assessment of the level of brain function at a single moment. Unfortunately, the GCS cannot tell if the injury is mild, moderate, or severe.  

The Glasgow Coma Scale score for a patient is based upon clinical assessment at the time of the injury. It is a 15 point assessment of eye-opening response, verbal response, and motor response. The accuracy of the results of the assessment depends upon when and by whom it was conducted. This classification system can be misleading as all traumatic injuries to the brain are serious and even those classified as “mild” under this system can result in catastrophic and life-long consequences.

The Rancho Los Amigos Levels of Cognitive Functioning Scale for Head Injury

The Rancho Los Amigos Levels of Cognitive Functioning Scale is another test.  While the Glasgow Coma Scale will be the first tool used, it is not useful after the initial injury.  When the injured victim emerges from his coma, the Rancho Los Amigos Scale is used. The Rancho Los Amigos Scale measures the levels of awareness, cognition, behavior and interaction with the environment on an eight level scale. The rate at which an injured victim progresses from level to level after coma emergence is difficult to predict, as every brain injury is unique.  Sometimes the admission criteria for a rehabilitation facility is based on the Rancho scale.

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