Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS)

What Is It?

The Glasgow Outcome Scale is a 5-point score given to victims of traumatic brain injury at some point in their recovery. It is a very general assessment of the general functioning of the person who suffered a head injury. Like the Glasgow Coma Scale, which is used acutely to grade the severity of a patient's trauma and mental function, it is named for Glasgow Scotland where its use was first described.


What Is the Purpose of the Glasgow Outcome Scale?

The GOS attempts to generalize and categorize the outcomes of patients who suffer traumatic brain injury. In general, unlike the Glasgow Coma Scale, this scale is not used in the clinical management of the patient. Rather, it is used often in research to quantify the level of recovery patients have achieved. Because it is a rather coarse scale, with only 5 levels, it has been argued that this scale is not ideal for research purposes. Other, more specific, complex and detailed grading systems have been developed for use. One of these is an adaptation of the GOS, called the Extended GOS, also described below.


How Is the GOS Determined?

The GOS is determined by a clinician at some point in the patient's recovery. Generally the time after injury is reported along with the GOS. So, for example, at 3 months after the traumatic injury, the clinician would note that it was a "3-month GOS" or "GOS-3". In research, common time points to evaluate the GOS include 3 months, 6 months and 12 months after injury.

The Glasgow Outcome Scale is a 5-level score:

  1. Dead
  2. Vegetative State (meaning the patient is unresponsive, but alive; a "vegetable" in lay language)
  3. Severely Disabled (conscious but the patient requires others for daily support due to disability)
  4. Moderately Disabled (the patient is independent but disabled)
  5. Good Recovery (the patient has resumed most normal activities but may have minor residual problems)

The Extended GOS, or GOS-E, has extended the scale to an 8-level score:

  1. Dead
  2. Vegetative State
  3. Lower Severe Disability
  4. Upper Severe Disability
  5. Lower Moderate Disability
  6. Upper Moderate Disability
  7. Lower Good Recovery
  8. Upper Good Recovery



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Important Note: This site is not intended to offer medical advice. Every patient is different, and only your personal physician can help to counsel you about what is best for your situation. What we offer is general reference information about various disorders and treatments for your education.

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