A neurological examination is the assessment of sensory neuron and motor responses, especially reflexes, to determine whether the nervous system is impaired. This typically includes a physical examination and a review of the patient’s medical history, fundoscopy made easy pdf not deeper investigation such as neuroimaging.
It can be used both as a screening tool and as an investigative tool, the former of which when examining the patient when there is no expected neurological deficit and the latter of which when examining a patient where you do expect to find abnormalities. In general, a neurological examination is focused on finding out whether there are lesions in the central and peripheral nervous systems or there is another diffuse process that is troubling the patient. Once the patient has been thoroughly tested, it is then the role of the physician to determine whether these findings combine to form a recognizable medical syndrome or neurological disorder such as Parkinson’s disease or motor neurone disease. Finally, it is the role of the physician to find the cause for why such a problem has occurred, for example finding whether the problem is due to inflammation or is congenital.
A neurological examination is indicated whenever a physician suspects that a patient may have a neurological disorder. Any new symptom of any neurological order may be an indication for performing a neurological examination. As patients answer questions, it is important to gain an idea of the complaint thoroughly and understand its time course.
The interval of a complaint is important as it can help aid the diagnosis. Carrying out a ‘general’ examination is just as important as the neurological exam, as it may lead to clues to the cause of the complaint. This is shown by cases of cerebral metastases where the initial complaint was of a mass in the breast.