Neurological Examination is a medical test conducted to find out and diagnose the presence of any disorder in the brain. It makes observations about the sensory neuron and automatic responses, especially the reflex actions, to help conclude if there is any abnormality in the brain of the person taking neurological examination. It is generally aimed at finding the presence of lesions in the brain.
These neurological examinations help the neurologist to find the cause of the illness and helps in treatment of the patient. The doctor decides the future course of action based on the findings of the neurological examination. The doctor may decide which type of test should be conducted on the patient depending upon the complaint of the patient and the symptoms shown by the patient. Neurological exam is not a treatment, but a tool that helps to decide the course of treatment to be taken.
The history of the patient is an integral part of the neurological exam. History includes the age of the patient, sex, whether any medical treatment was undertaken by the patient, allergy to any drug etc. Many a times, underlying cause of a disease remains undetected unless the neurological examination is undertaken. Following are the ways in which the Neurological Examination is conducted:
- EEG or electroencephalogram: It observes and records the electrical activity of the brain. It notes the pattern of brain waves both when the patient is awake and when the patient is sleeping. Electrodes are kept on the scalp and the slight details of the brain activity are noted from different parts of brain. The impulses of the brain waves are recorded on a paper. If the pattern of the impulse differs from the normal pattern, it would mean presence of some disorder or lesion.
- Anatomical Brain Scans: CAT Scan or computerized axial tomography: The technology of radiography and computer is combined to study the disorder of the brain. X rays are taken of various parts of the brain. Then, with the help of computer the x ray beams are applied to various portions of the brain and images are made. A neurologist is able to read the report.
- MRI Scan or Magnetic Resonance Imaging: MRI scan is advanced as compared to CAT scan. This is used to find out disorders in the central nervous system. The brain images recorded by MRI are clearer as compared to CAT scan. Moreover, since CAT is using X ray, it could harm the brain.
- PET Scan or Positron Emission Tomography: In this process, the metabolic process of the brain is recorded by the use of metabolic portraits. PET scan are useful particularly in detecting organic processes behind mental disorders like schizophrenia, drug addiction, depression etc.
- Functional MRI: This is a new technique and hence is not much in use at present. It is an advanced stage of MRI. It monitors and records the blood flow changes of the brain tissue. This is due to the neuronal activity of the brain. The structure of the brain is exposed clearly as compared to the MRI scan.