The neurological examination is the part of the physical examination performed by clinicians to assess nervous system functions at that moment in time. The “neuro exam” may be organized in different ways, such as with the categories: mental status, cranial nerves, motor, somatosensation, reflexes, coordination, and gait.
The neurological mental status examination usually assesses arousal and cognitive functions. The psychiatric mental status examination also usually assesses additional aspects of emotions and consciousness. The rest of the neurological examination assesses sensory and motor functions; only a few autonomic functions are commonly tested. The cranial nerve examination assesses functions performed by many of the nerves of the head and neck. The motor examination assesses aspects of the skeletal muscles of the limbs, and occasionally the torso.
The somatosensory examination usually assesses touch, position, vibration, pain, and temperature sense of the limbs, and occasionally the torso. The reflex examination usually assesses the stretch reflex of certain muscle groups of the limbs by tapping their tendons with a rubber hammer. The coordination examination assesses the smoothness and accuracy of certain limb movements. The gait examination assesses the many sensory and motor functions involved in standing and walking. The parts of the neurological examination can be expanded, shortened, or skipped, depending on the situation.