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Decorticate response (GCS-4:112) or worse, decerebrate response (GCS-5:113), whatever the reason, are a sign of brain damage1.

According to the US National Institute of Health:

  • Decorticate posture: "sign of damage to the nerve pathway between the brain and spinal cord".
  • Decerebrate posture: "severe injury to the brain". (And brain stem damage according to the Wikipedia article above, that uses paper sources).

Are such brain damage irreversible or is there a chance, even slight, that the person recovers?


1- As this was asked in comments and chat: this does not mean that all kinds of brain damages lead to these postures. Maybe some don't. The question here is limited to the damages these two posture reveal. The reason for focusing on these two postures is that they have a special meaning in first-aid, when evaluating the conscious state of a victim.

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  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – Dave Liu
    Apr 25 '15 at 2:32
  • 1
    @DaveL Thanks for this discussion. I'll rephrase this question to explain how specific these two postures are for rescuers - they have a special meaning. Please don't blame me if I don't feel brave enough to do it right now, it's 5AM here :)
    – Shlublu
    Apr 25 '15 at 3:00
  • I concur with DaveL. The postures indicate certain types/locations of injury, but speak nothing to mechanism. It is mechanism of injury which dictates chance of recovery. As phrased, the question is unanswerable.
    – DrRandy
    Apr 29 '15 at 13:17

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