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What is the NIH stroke scale test?

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Quick Answer

The National Institutes of Health stroke scale test is a clinical evaluation tool used to determine and document the neurological status of stroke patients, according to the National Stroke Association. Doctors us the test to estimate lesion size, measure the severity of a stroke and predict short- and long-term outcomes for stroke patients.

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Doctors may use the NIH stroke scale to collect data to plan for the care of patients, as the scale provides a common language for health care providers, states the National Stroke Association. Doctors can take a test to become certified in the NIH stroke scale online at the National Stroke Association website, and a training DVD and paper testing are also available.

The stroke scale test is designed as a simple, reliable and valid assessment that can be completed by a doctor, nurse or therapist at a patient's bedside in less than 10 minutes, states NIH Stroke Scale International. The test evaluates 15 aspects of acute cerebral infarction including language, visual-field loss, motor strength, ataxia and sensory loss. Criteria are scored with numbers, and a zero is normal. The NIH stroke scale is the result of the combined efforts of national and international governments as well as private and scholastic organizations.

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