It may be done with instruments, such as lights and reflex hammers. It usually does not cause any pain to the patient. The nervous system consists of the brain, the spinal cord, and the nerves from these areas. There are many aspects of this exam, including an assessment of motor and sensory skills, balance and coordination, mental status (the patient's level of awareness and interaction with the environment), reflexes, and functioning of the nerves. The extent of the exam depends on many factors, including the initial problem that the patient is experiencing, the age of the patient, and the condition of the patient.
A complete and thorough evaluation of a person's nervous system is important if there is any reason to think there may be an underlying problem, or during a complete physical. Damage to the nervous system can cause problems in daily functioning. Early identification may help to find the cause and decrease long-term complications.
During a neurological exam, the healthcare provider will test the functioning of the nervous system. The nervous system is very complex and controls many parts of the body. The nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord, twelve nerves that come from the brain, and the nerves that come from the spinal cord. The circulation to the brain, arising from the arteries in the neck, is also frequently examined. In infants and younger children, a neurological exam includes the measurement of the head circumference. The following is an overview of some of the areas that may be tested and evaluated during a neurological exam:
References: The Cleveland Clinic, Merck Manual, Johns Hopkins University