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Neurological Examination. What comes first?. As with any system the first thing that should be done before commencing the examination is to ___________. For the neurological system the review questions are: Headache or facial pain? Fits, faints or funny turns? Dizziness or vertigo?

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Neurological Examination


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    1. Neurological Examination

    2. What comes first? • As with any system the first thing that should be done before commencing the examination is to ___________. • For the neurological system the review questions are: • Headache or facial pain? • Fits, faints or funny turns? • Dizziness or vertigo? • Disturbances of vision hearing or smell? • Speech and swallowing difficulties? • Disturbed sensation? • Weakness? • Tremor and involuntary movements? • Loss of bladder/bowel control? • Gait disturbances? • It is also vital to note the temporal course of the illness take a history

    3. Motor System • Inspection: • Look at the overall positioning of the patient, looking especially for hemiplegic positioning (flexion of elbow and wrist with extension of knee and ankle) • Muscle wasting – compare both sides • Look for fasiculations • Test muscle tone – ensure the patient is relaxed and repeat each movement at different speeds. This can be surprisingly difficult to evaluate.

    4. Motor System Arms: Basic Screening Examination

    5. Motor System Legs: Basic Screening Examination

    6. Sensory System There are five basic modalities of sensation:

    7. Sensory System The sensory exam should cover the relevant dermatomes, starting ________and working your way__________. distally proximally

    8. Sensory System There are four individual nerves which are commonly affected in the upper limb. It is worth knowing their sensory distribution. Radial Median Ulnar

    9. Sensory System There are four individual nerves which are commonly affected in the upper limb. It is worth knowing their sensory distribution. Axillary

    10. Sensory System There are also four individual nerves which are commonly affected in the lower limb. It is worth knowing their sensory distribution.

    11. Coordination • A coordinated series of motor actions is needed to produce a smooth and accurate movement. This requires the integration of sensory feedback and motor output which occurs mainly in the __________. • Loss of joint position sense can produce incoordination, especially with the eyes closed, thus it is necessary to test proprioception before coordination. • What to do: • Test the patient’s gait • Finger-nose test • Repeated movements (hand tap) • Heel-shin test • Feet tap cerebellum

    12. Higher Function • Higher function is a term used to encompass thought, memory, understanding, perception and intellect. Higher function testing can be divided into the following parts: • Attention • Memory (immediate, short, long) • Calculation • Abstract thought • Spatial • Visual and body perception

    13. Attention and Orientation • Orientation: • Time: What day is it? What’s the date? The month, year? What is the season? • Place: What is the name of the place we are at? What is the name of the ward/hospital? What is the name of the city/town? • Person: What is your name? What is your job? Where do you live? • Attention: Digit span • Tell the patient you want them to repeat some numbers that you give them. Start with simple sequences of 3 to 4 numbers and increase until the patient makes several mistakes at a certain number of digits. Then ask the patient to repeat the numbers you say backwards. • Normal = seven forward, five backwards.

    14. Memory Immediate recall: Tell the patient a name and address, e.g. Josh Graham, 18 Bromide Street, Broken Hill. Ask them to repeat it back to you immediately. Short term recall After about 5 minutes ask the patient to recall the name and address. Long term recall Test factual knowledge that you would expect the patient to have. This varies greatly from patient to patient and needs to be modified carefully. Example general knowledge questions include: Name an American president that was shot dead, what are the colours on the Australian flag, etc?

    15. Calculation Serial sevens Ask the patient to subtract 7 from 100 and to take another seven from what remains. Note the time taken to do the calculations and mistakes made. The premorbid intelligence should also be taken into consideration, for example a mistake made by a maths professor would carry greater significance. Doubling threes This should be done if the patient admits to difficulty to calculations. Ask what is two times three. And twice that, and so on. Note how high the patient can go and how long it takes.

    16. Abstract Thought • This tests for frontal lobe function and is particularly useful in frontal lobe lesions, dementia and psychiatric illness. • Ask the patient to explain well know proverbs. For example: • A rolling stone gathers no moss • People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones • The correct interpretation is normal • A physical interpretation such as ‘the stone just rolls down so moss doesn’t stick’ or ‘throwing stones will break the glass’ indicates concrete thinking. • Another useful test is to ask the patient to describe the differences between objects e.g. A table and a chair.

    17. Spatial This tests for parietal and occipital lobe function. Clock face: Ask the patient to draw a clock face and fill in the numbers. Ask them to then draw on the hands at a given time, for example quarter past eight. Five pointed star Ask the patient to copy this five pointed star  Normal= accurate clock and star Half clock missing= visual inattention Unable to draw clock or star= constructional apraxia

    18. Visual and body perception • This is another test for parietal and occipital lesions. Useful in dementias • Facial recognition: ‘famous faces’ • Take a bedside newspaper or magazine and ask the patient to identify the faces of famous people. Choose people the patient would be expected to know, e.g. the prime minister, the queen, etc • Normal= faces recognised • Faces not recognised= propagnosia • Body perception: • Patient ignores one side and unable to find hand if asked (Hemi-neglect) • Patient does not recognise left hand if shown it (asomatagnosia) • Patient is unaware of weakness on affected side and will often move the unaffected side when asked to move the affected.

    19. Visual and body perception Body perception: Ask the patient to show you their index finger, ring finger and so on. Failure is termed finger agnosia Ask the patient to touch their left ear with their right hand. Cross their hands and ask which is the right hand. Failure is termed left/right agnosia Ask the patient to close their eyes and place a familiar object e.g. Coin, pen in their hand and ask them to identify it. Failure is termed astereognosis Ask the patient to close their eyes and write a number or letter on their palm and ask them what it is. Failure is termed agraphaesthesia

    20. Apraxia Apraxia is an inability to perform a task when there is no weakness, incoordination or movement disorder to prevent it. This tests for parietal function and the premotor cortex of the frontal lobe. It is very useful in dementias. Ask the patient to perform an imaginary task ‘Show me how you would comb your hair, drink a cup of tea, strike a match and blow it out’ The patient is able to perform the action = Normal The patient is unable to initiate the action, though understanding the command = Ideational apraxia The patient performs the task but makes errors = ideomotorapraxia

    21. Apraxia The three hand test Ask the patient to copy your movements and demonstrate: Make a fist and tap it against the table thumb up Straighten your fingers and tap the table with your thumb up Place your palm flat on the table If the patient cannot perform this in the presence of normal motor function = limb apraxia.

    22. Patterns of focal loss