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Goodbye GCS! – Mark Wilson

Summary by: Mark Wilson

Consciousness comprises “wakefulness” (that’s the brain stem, opening your eyes component) and “content” (that’s the supratentorial, thinking, “someone’s home” component). You can have wakefulness without content (e.g. persistent vegetative state) but not content without wakefulness.

Describing a “level” of consciousness, converting this multifaceted human brain ability into a linear scale was possibly the biggest neuroscience break through of the 20th Century. The 1974 Lancet paper in which Brian Jennet and Sir Graham Teasdale proposed the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) is certainly the most cited neuroscience paper. We had even put a man on the moon before this had been created. It’s relative simplicity and repeatability meant GCS was rapidly taken up across the world. Now 40 years on, is it out of date?

There are problems with the GCS – it doesn’t include pupil response, it doesn’t look at ventilation or other autonomic functions hence other systems such as the 4 score system have been proposed. But these take longer, and are poorly known so cannot be used like GCS to rapidly convey in a meaningful way the level of consciousness of a patient between clinicians.

In this talk Mark Wilson goes through the history of the GCS and other conscious measures… is it time to say Goodbye to GCS?

The Podcast

The Slides


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