State of consciousness

The initial neurological assessment of a person who has suffered an accident, illness or disease begins with an evaluation of their state of consciousness. This step is crucial in determining the person's ability to respond appropriately to their environment. Airway protection reflexes are particularly important because their loss can be life-threatening. It is therefore essential to quickly assess the state of consciousness and to take the necessary measures to protect the victim's airway if necessary.


Definition and Meaning

Consciousness refers to a person's perception of themselves and their environment. It is measured by the person's ability to interact with and respond to their environment. This state is essential in the neurological assessment of patients who have suffered an accident or illness, as it determines whether the person is conscious, alert and able to respond to external stimuli.

Importance of the state of consciousness

The state of consciousness is the first step in the neurological assessment of a victim of an accident, illness or disease. It determines the person's ability to behave appropriately in the environment. Consciousness is considered one of the vital functions that ensures the survival of the person.

Airway protection reflexes

Consciousness also helps protect the person's airway through reflexes such as:

  • swallowing,
  • coughing,
  • muscle tone,
  • the use of the cardia sphincter,
  • the tone of the tongue,
  • the use of the epiglottis,
  • etc.

The loss of these reflexes represents a danger for the person, because he/she does not protect his/her airways spontaneously anymore, so there is a risk of complications or death by choking.