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Neurological Exam for Parkinson's Disease - Topic Overview

A detailed neurological exam should be part of a standard physical exam to diagnose Parkinson's disease. It can also separate Parkinson's disease from other conditions. Your family doctor or general practitioner can do this. Or you may be referred to a neurologist. This 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 check your muscle strength and control. The doctor may also test your reflexes, sensation (such as the ability to feel a pinprick or a light touch), and vision.

Recommended Related to Parkinson's

Understanding Parkinson's Disease -- Diagnosis and Treatment

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.

Read the Understanding Parkinson's Disease -- Diagnosis and Treatment article > >

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 you may be asked 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. The doctor may ask direct questions about your mood and emotions.

The doctor will also listen to your heart and lungs. He or she may perform other routine tests.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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