Pediatric Neurological Examination

Pediatric Neurological Examination

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Summary

A neurological examination assesses the function of a child’s brain, spinal cord and nerves.

Expanded overview

Typically performed in a doctor’s office or clinic, a neurological examination checks the function of a child’s nervous system. This important system includes the brain, spinal cord and the nerves that connect them. A neurological exam may be performed:

  • At a newborn physical
  • At the well-child checkup
  • Following any type of birth defect to the head or spine
  • To follow the progression of a neurological condition

Reasons to undergo a neurological exam

A pediatrician may recommend that a child undergo a neurological exam if they are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Blurred vision
  • Changes in balance or coordination
  • Changes in behavior
  • Decrease in movement of the arms or legs
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Injury to the head, neck or back
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs
  • Seizures
  • Slurred speech
  • Tremor

What to expect

The pediatric neurologist may use instruments, such as lights and reflex hammers. This is typically a painless exam. During the neurological exam, the doctor will check one or more of the following:

  • Balance and coordination
  • Mental health (level of awareness and interaction with the environment)
  • Motor and sensory skills
  • Nerve function
  • Reflexes

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