Brain injury test update may help doctors better predict outcomes

April 10 (UPI) — Researchers have updated the Glasgow Coma Scale for brain injury and expect it will help doctors to derive more information, better predict outcome and improve treatment selection for patients.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland developed a new score using information collected with the GSC to determine the condition of a patient’s central nervous system in serious trauma or intensive care. Their findings were published Tuesday in the Journal of Neurosurgery.

They worked with the original team at the University of Glasgow and the city’s Southern General Hospital in 1974 to improve the score by adding pupil response.

“This has been a very successful collaboration,” Dr. Sir Graham Teasdale, emeritus professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Glasgow, who first developed the test, said in an Edinburgh press release. “It promises to add a new index to the language of clinical practice throughout the world. The GCS-P will be a platform for bringing together clinical information in a way that can be easily communicated and understood. “

The original 13-point test includes a person’s ability to open eyes, speak and move, and is used worldwide.

With the new method, researchers found the new score, known as the GCS-Pupil, would have improved doctors’ ability to predict a patient’s condition six months after a brain injury.

“We have devised a method for bringing together the four most important prognostic features for outcome following head injury — early GCS score, pupil response, patient age, and CT findings — to display graphically their combined effects on the risk of death or prospects for independent recovery,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers used health records from two studies of 10,702 patients aged 16 and older with a mean age of 36. The patients whose records were analyzed include injuries ranging from mild to severe.

The test is simple and adopted into hospitals easily, researchers said.

“The importance of the Glasgow Coma Scale to medicine cannot be overstated and our simple revision really improves its predictive ability and usefulness,” said study co-leader Dr Paul Brennan, of the University of Edinburgh’s Center for Clinical Brain Sciences. “Making major decisions about brain injured patients relies on quick assessments and the new method gives us rapid insights into the patient’s condition. Our next step is to test the GCS-P more widely on large data sets from Europe and the U.S.”

An estimated 1.5 million people in the United States sustain a traumatic brain injury every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a consequence of those injuries, the CDC said 230,000 people are hospitalized and survive, 50,000 die and 80,000 to 90,000 experience the onset of long-term disability.

The leading causes traumatic brain injury are motor vehicle crashes, violence and falls.