New brain injury test could improve patient care

New brain injury test could improve patient care


Tuesday, 10 April, 2018

Dr Paul Brennan (Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences) and Dr Gordon Murray (Usher Institute) have been co-leading a study exploring how to improve brain trauma assessment using the Glasgow Coma Scale, and improve patient care.

The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) was developed in 1974 at the University of Glasgow and the Southern General Hospital and is used in more than 80 countries worldwide.  It is used by doctors to assess patient consciousness by applying a 13-point scale to guide treatment decisions and monitor trends in responsiveness, by taking eyes, speech and movement into account.

Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow used the health records of 15,000 patients, and found that assessment of pupil reactivity - GCS-Pupil or GCS-P - would have improved doctors' ability to predict patients' conditions six months after a brain injury. A major advantage of the new test would be the speed at which it could be adopted by doctors.

Dr Paul Brennan said: "The importance of the Glasgow Coma Scale to medicine cannot be overstated and our simple revision really improves its predictive ability and usefulness.  Making major decisions about brain injured patients relies on quick assessments and the new method gives us rapid insights into the patient's condition."

Almost 350,000 hospital admissions as a result of damage to the brain in the UK per year - an average of one every 90 seconds.  Earlier this year, Sport Scotland issued new guidelines on deadline with concussion during physical activity.  The guidelines state all head injuries should be assessed by a healthcare professional and people with persisting symptoms, including headache, vomiting or unusual behaviour, should be reviewed at A&E.

Prof Sir Graham Teasdale, who first developed the GCS, said: "The GCS-P will be a platform for bringing together clinical information in a way that can be easily communicated and understood."