Frequently Asked Questions
makes the DRS different from most other scales?
the DRS be done over the phone?
the DRS be done retrospectively through medical chart review?
do I get to cognitive ability over the phone?
do you know whether to ask the patient or the caregiver for the
a person have a "0" score for toileting and be incontinent?
do you rate "employability" for a person who is retired or in
a .5 rating?
in doubt, do I rate higher or lower?
sensitive is the DRS to Mild Brain Injury?
the DRS total score broken into clinical categories?
it cost anything to use the scale, and can I copy it freely?
What makes the DRS different from most other scales?
The DRS can be used for both inpatient and follow up evaluations
and is one of the few scales that can track a person from "coma
to community." This scale takes both cognitive and physical function
into consideration for scoring, as well as impairment, disability,
and handicap, and may present a more global picture of the patient.
It is brief and rater training is not difficult.
Can the DRS be done over the phone?
Yes. Reliability and validity have been well demonstrated.
Can the DRS be done retrospectively through medical chart review?
Yes, as long as sufficient information is available to rate each
item accurately. Remember, Feeding, Grooming, and Toileting items
address cognitive not physical ability.
How do I get to cognitive ability over the phone?
Find out what the physical limitations are first. If there are none,
than anything less than the ability for full functioning can be
assumed to be due to cognitive deficits. Questions such as " Does
subject need help to complete personal hygiene? Does subject need
someone else to help set up equipment (toothbrush and toothpaste,
comb, shaver)? Does subject need prompting to complete task or reminders,
ie, changing clothes? Does subject indicate (i.e., squirming in
his chair) that he needs to void?" will help scoring for cognitive
How do you know whether to ask the patient or the caregiver for
Speaking to the patient is preferred, however, if the patient is
unable or not available the rater may speak to someone close to
Can a person have a "0" score for toileting and be incontinent?
Yes. The items "feeding, grooming, and toileting" are rated for
cognitive ability (knowing how and when) only.
How do you rate "employability" for a person who is retired or in
"Employability" is not employment. The item refers to the overall
cognitive and physical ability to be an employee, homemaker or student.
For example, client "A" returns to her home. She employs three staff
members to garden, cook and clean, and is involved in doing several
volunteer projects (rate "0"). Client "B" returns to her home. She
has three employees because she cannot garden, clean or cook safely
and consistently, but can complete selected activities with structure
or supervision (rate 2-2.5).
Why a .5 rating?
In 1994, the Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems (TBIMS) National
Database adopted a 0.5 rating option for the last 5 items of the
DRS. Although raters found the half point discrimination useful,
no validation study was ever completed on the use of the 0.5 rating
option. In 2010, the TBIMS National Database members voted to omit
the 0.5 rating option. Use of the 0.5 rating option after April
1, 2010 is not recommended.
When in doubt, do I rate higher or lower?
If in doubt, give the patient the benefit of the doubt.
How sensitive is the DRS to Mild Brain Injury?
A one point change on the low end of the 30 point scale (mild to
normal) is substantially more clinically significant than a one
point change at the high end. The DRS is not recommended for rating
persons who have sustained a mild brain injury due to its relative
insensitivity at that end of the scale.
Isn't the DRS total score broken into clinical categories?
The categories seen below and on older DRS forms, were assigned
for ranges of summed scores to help describe the level of dysfunction.
categories were not based on any statistical analysis of scaling.
They were provided to be helpful for clinical purposes. Any use
of the DRS for research purposes should utilize the actual summed
Does it cost anything to use the scale, and can I copy it freely?
There is no charge for using the DRS. It can be copied freely.