What is a Neurological Exam? by Dr Winnie Lim Khoo
Central Nervous System is a complex network of fibers that impenetrates the entire body and functions in complicated and often mysterious ways. Sophisticated imaging and laboratory tests do not always provide sufficient information about how the nerves are functioning — or not functioning, as the case may be.
The neurological examination is a series of simple questions and tests that provide crucial information about the nervous system. It is an inexpensive, noninvasive way to determine what might be wrong.
The neurological examination is divided into several components, each focusing on a different part of the nervous system:
- mental status
- cranial nerves
- motor system
- sensory system
- the deep tendon reflexes
- coordination and the cerebellum
The exam requires skill, patience, and intelligence on the part of the neurologist, and cooperation from the patient. Incomplete or inaccurate exams can lead to incorrect diagnosis.
Neurologist may also ask you general health questions that may seem unrelated to your symptoms, but are, in fact, important. These questions could be about whether or not you feel faint, nauseated or tired. The doctor may also ask if your bladder control and sexual function are normal. You will also be asked if you are suffering from any other illnesses and if you are taking medications. Neurologist will then perform a physical exam to test for loss of vibratory sensation. He or she will test ankle jerks and other reflexes. Sensations in the feet and hands will be evaluated with a pin.
Since some neuropathies are hereditary, you neurologist will ask if other members of your family have suffered from any type of neuropathy or neurological disorder.