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Your recovery

Glasgow Coma Scale and amnesia

The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) and checking for amnesia helps your healthcare team understand more about your brain injury.

Glasgow Coma Scale

Your healthcare team will use the GCS to:

  • check your awareness
  • check how well your brain is working
  • classify how bad your injury is
  • decide how much care you need

The scale uses a total score that’s out of 15.

  • 8 or less means a severe brain injury
  • 9 to 12 means a moderate brain injury (a brain injury that is between mild and severe)
  • 13 to 15 means a mild brain injury


Amnesia is the loss of memory. There are different types of amnesia.

  • Anterograde amnesia is when you have trouble remembering things that happen after a brain injury.
  • Retrograde amnesia is when you can’t remember what happened before the brain injury.
  • Post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) is when you can’t remember what happened at the time around the injury.

Your healthcare team looks at how long PTA lasts, the first GCS number, and how long you’re unconscious (not aware of what’s going on around you) after your injury. This helps them understand how bad the brain injury is and what your recovery may look like.​

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