Neurological Exam for Parkinson's Disease - Topic Overview
A detailed neurological exam should be part of a standard physical exam
Parkinson's disease and to separate Parkinson's
disease from other conditions. Your family doctor or general practitioner can do this. Or you may
be referred to a neurologist, which is a doctor who specializes in disorders of the nervous
system (brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and muscles).
During this exam, your doctor will observe your movement, coordination,
and balance. You may be asked to complete a few physical tasks, such as walking
up and down a hall or getting up from a chair. The doctor also will watch for
any rapid, repetitive movements, such as finger-tapping or tremor. Simple tests
may be used to evaluate your muscle strength and control, reflexes, sensation
(such as the ability to feel a pinprick or a light touch), and vision.
Usually, the outward symptoms of Parkinson's are distinctive enough for a doctor to make a diagnosis in the office. There is no blood test or brain scan that confirms the diagnosis. But if you don't respond to the drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease, it’s possible you may have another type of movement disorder that causes the same type of symptoms. Doing additional tests can help your doctor determine if some other problem is causing your parkinsonian symptoms.
The neurological exam also will include a brief assessment of your mental
ability and emotional condition. The doctor may ask you to repeat a series of
numbers or to answer simple questions about dates, places, and current events.
The doctor usually can judge your emotional condition during the exam by paying
attention to your actions and statements and by asking direct questions about
your mood and emotions.
The doctor will also listen to your heart
and lungs and may perform other routine examinations.