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New Method lets Doctors Quickly Assess Severity of Brain Injuries

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A new way to rapidly assess levels of consciousness inpeople with head injuries could improve patient care. The new score – based on the Glasgow Coma Scale –could also help doctors access the health of the patient’s central nervous system in cases of serioustrauma or intensive care.

Using it could improve the way doctors around theworld care for patients in a coma from brain injury. The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) was created at theUniversity of Glasgow and the city’s Southern General Hospital in 1974.

The 13 point scale – covering the patient’s ability toopen their eyes, speak and move – has revolutionisedthe care of brain injured patients worldwide.

The original GCS team joined forces with researchersat the University of Edinburgh to improve the scaleby adding a simple score for pupil response.

Using health records from more than 15,000patients, they showed that the new score, known asthe GCS-Pupil (GCS-P), would have improved doctors’ ability to predict a patient’s condition in the sixmonths following a brain injury.

A major advantage of the GCS-P is its simplicity andit could be adopted into hospitals easily, allowingdoctors to quickly assess prognosis, experts say.

There are almost 350,000 hospital admissionsinvolving damage to the brain in the UK per year,equating to one admission every 90 seconds.

Dr Paul Brennan, who co-led the study from the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, said: “The importance of the Glasgow ComaScale to medicine cannot be overstated and our simple revision really improves its predictive ability andusefulness.

“Making major decisions about brain injured patientsrelies on quick assessments and the new method givesus rapid insights into the patient’s condition. Ournext step is to test the GCS-P more widely on largedate sets from Europe and the US.”

Professor Sir Graham Teasdale, Emeritus Professorof Neurosurgery at the University of Glasgow, who first developed the GCS and co-led the study, said

:“This has been a very successful collaboration. Itpromises to add a new index to the language of clinical practice throughout the world. The GCS-P willbe a platform for bringing together clinical information in a way that can be easily communicated andunderstood.”

The study, published in the Journal of Neurosurgery,was supported by a Muriel Cooke bequest to theUniversity of Glasgow.

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