What Are the Steps in a Neurological Assessment?


Quick Answer

The first step in a neurological assessment is evaluation of the level of consciousness and mental function, according to the ModernMedicine Network. After this, the physician checks motor function, then sensation and cerebellar function, and finally the reflexes. The aim of a neurological assessment is to find out the presence of neurological disease or injury with the aim of monitoring its progression. The assessment also determines the type of care the patient can receive.

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Full Answer

A change in the mental state or level of consciousness is the first indication of a neurological problem, states the ModernMedicine Network. This step checks whether the patient is in a state of consciousness, lethargy, stupor or a coma. A comprehensive test of mental ability usually involves testing for intellectual function as well.

Testing for motor function involves assessing the ability of the patient to move on command, explains ModernMedicine Network. Some of the tests involve the patient moving the limbs, at times against sustained force. The results are compared to a scale that indicates 0 for no movement and +5 for full movement. Pressure is avoided when assessing motor function in an unconscious patient.

The sensory and cerebellar function examination seeks to assess the patient’s ability to identify various stimuli with eyes closed, claims Modern Medicine Network. Some of the sensations include pain, temperature and position. The final step is testing for reflexes. The most common reflexes tested in this section include biceps, triceps, patellar, brachioradialis and Achilles tendon.

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