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New Test For Brain Injuries Could Improve Patient Care

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Researchers have come up with a new test to measure how severe a brain injury is – a step forward in improving patient care.

Experts from Glasgow and Edinburgh universities partnered to make improvements on the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), a tool that helps doctors determine patient consciousness, the BBC reports.

Measuring how a patient’s pupils react to light could greatly help with treatment decisions for brain injuries, the scientists say. A major advantage of such a test would be the speed at which doctors could adopt this method.

The GCS was developed in 1974 at the University of Glasgow and the Southern General Hospital, and is used in over 80 countries across the world. This scale has 13 points that guide treatment decisions, and track responsiveness based on a person’s eyes, speech and movement.

This study examined the health records of 15,000 patients and found that assessment of pupil reactivity, called GCS-Pupil or GCS-P, would have had a positive effect on doctors’ ability to forecast the condition of their patients six months after diagnosing a brain injury.

Paul Brennan from the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences in Edinburgh, co-author on the study, said, “The importance of the Glasgow Coma Scale to medicine cannot be overstated and our simple revision really improves its predictive ability and usefulness.” Brennan added,

Making major decisions about brain injured patients relies on quick assessments and the new method gives us rapid insights into the patient’s condition.

There are almost 350,000 hospital admissions due to brain damage in the United Kingdom per year, which comes to an average of one injury every 90 seconds.

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.”

The study was published in the Journal of Neurosurgery.

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