May 27, 2021


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Musculoskeletal and Neurological Exam

Organizing the assessments of the neurologic and musculoskeletal systems makes the assessments much easier.

The neurologic system assessment consists of five areas to assess: mental status, cranial nerves, motor system, sensory system, and reflexes. Often the mental status assessment is done at the beginning of the assessment as part of the General Survey, since it can identify if the person is a good historian. It is important to include the following components in a mental status assessment: Appearance and behavior, Speech and language, Mood, Thoughts and perceptions, and Cognitive function. The cranial nerves are mostly included in the assessment of the head and neck, and it is easy to include them all at that point. In addition, the senses of sight and hearing (more cranial nerves) are assessed when those organs are assessed. Often the sense of taste and smell are only assessed if the person reports a problem. All of this can simplify the process of this portion of the evaluation.

What is left in the neurological assessments are the motor, sense of touch, and reflex portions!

To assess the motor areas, one is looking at body position, muscle size, tone and strength, and if there are any involuntary movements. For the musculoskeletal system one needs to inspect for joint symmetry and abnormalities, palpate the joints for pain and crepitus, and assess range of motion. One can look at the joints and muscles, as well as sensory deficits of these areas together as one moves cephalocaudally, and proximally to distally throughout the body. Cerebellar function needs to be assessed, that is coordination, gait, and balance. That leaves just assessment of the reflexes.

Respond to the following Journal prompt by utilizing information you learned this week in class as well as your own experience and knowledge.

  • Does this help to simplify the assessment of these seemingly complex body systems?
  • Which assessments from this week will you use in your practice and which ones will you not? Provide a rationale for each stance.

Journal Requirements

Before you finalize your work, you should:

  • be sure to read the Journal prompt carefully;
  • consult the Grading Rubric in the Course Resources to make sure you have included everything necessary;
  • utilize spell check and grammar check to minimize errors; and
  • access information regarding APA citation information, such as the Writing Center if needed.

Your Journal entry should:

  • clearly establish and sustain the viewpoint and purpose of the prompt;
  • follow the conventions of Standard English (correct grammar, punctuation, etc.);
  • be well ordered, logical, and unified, as well as original and insightful;
  • display superior content, organization, style, and mechanics; and
  • use APA 6th edition format for crediting sources.


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