Relationship between Glasgow Coma Scale and functional outcome

Ross D. Zafonte, Flora M. Hammond, Nancy R. Mann, Deborah L. Wood, Kertia L. Black, Scott R. Millis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

103 Scopus citations


The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) is routinely used in the acute care setting after traumatic brain injury (TBI) to guide decisions in triage, based on its ability to predict morbidity and mortality. Although the GCS has been previously demonstrated to predict mortality, efficacy in prediction of functional outcome has not been established. The purpose of this study was to assess the value of the acute GCS in predicting functional outcome in survivors of TBI. This study used the Multicenter National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research TBI Model Systems database of 501 patients who had received acute medical care and inpatient rehabilitation within a coordinated neurotrauma program for treatment of TBI. Initial and lowest 24 hr GCS scores were correlated with the following outcome measures: the Disability Rating Scale (DRS), Rancho Los Amigos Levels of Cognitive Functioning Scale (LCFS), and cognitive and motor components of the Functional Independence Measure (FIM(SM)-COG and FIM(SM)-M). Outcome data were collected at admission to and discharge from the inpatient TBI rehabilitation unit. Correlation analysis revealed only modest, but statistically significant, relationships between initial and lowest GCS scores and outcome variables. Initial and lowest GCS score comparison with outcome demonstrated the following correlation coefficients: admission DRS, - 0.25 and -0.28; discharge DRS, -0.24 and -0.24; admission LCFS, 0.31 and 0.33; discharge LCFS, 0.27 and 0.25; admission FIM-COG, 0.36 and 0.37; discharge FIM-COG, 0.23 and 0.23; admission FIM-M, 0.31 and 0.31; discharge FIM-M, 0.25 and 0.21. The GCS as a single variable may have limited value as a predictor of functional outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)364-369
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Head Injury
  • Outcome
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation

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