Validation of the Simplified Motor Score in patients with traumatic brain injury at a major trauma centre in South Africa

  • J.J.P. Buitendag
  • A Ras
  • V.Y. Kong
  • J.L. Bruce
  • G.L. Laing
  • D.L. Clarke
  • P Brysiewicz


Background. This study used data from a large prospectively entered database to assess the efficacy of the motor score (M score) component of the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) and the Simplified Motor Score (SMS) in predicting overall outcome in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Objective. To safely and reliably simplify the scoring system used to assess level of consciousness of trauma patients in the acute setting.

Methods. A retrospective observational review of the Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Trauma Service hybrid electronic medical registry database was performed during the period January 2013 - December 2015. Patients were classified into three groups using their GCS as an injury severity score. These were mild TBI (GCS 13 - 15), moderate TBI (GCS 9 - 12) and severe TBI (GCS <9). The Glasgow M score was specifically evaluated to determine the relationship between the individual motor component and patient outcome.

Results. GCS scores and M scores were analysed in a total of 830 patients. There was a decline in survival rate when the M score on admission was ≤4. The decline was more significant when the M score was ≤3. Survival rates were 26.8% (11/41) for patients with an M score of 1, 63.6% (14/22) for those with a score of 2, 56.5% (13/23) for those with a score of 3, 80.0% (20/25) for those with a score of 4, and 95.5% (121/128) for those with a score of 5. Of 591 patients with an M score of 6, 580 (98.1%) survived. Mortality rose dramatically with declining SMS. This was highly significant. When the M score was plotted against mortality in 830 patients, there was a correct prediction in 769 cases (accuracy 92.7%, sensitivity 67.6%, specificity 95%). The area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was 0.9037, with a standard deviation (area) of 0.0227. When comparing the SMS against mortality, the accuracy was 77.1%, the sensitivity 84.5% and the specificity 76.4%. The fitted ROC area was 0.891 and the empirical ROC area 0.86.

Conclusion. The M score component of the GCS and the SMS accurately predict outcome in patients with TBI. In cases where the full GCS is difficult to assess, the M score and SMS can be used safely as a triage tool.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0256-95749
print ISSN: 2078-5135