Neurological Assessment

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Original Editor - Kim Jackson Top Contributors - Kim Jackson


In order to provide the best care and plan the best treatment a thorough assessment must be undertaken. It is the most important step in the rehabilitation process, helps to guide our clinical reasoning and decision when making informed decisions about the rehabilitation process. Johnson & Thompson (1996) outlined that treatment can only be as good as the assessment on which it was based[1]. So in order for us to progress and manage our treatment plan and ensure we are identifying out patients problems the assessment should be an ongoing and continuous process. A neurological assessment focuses on the nervous system to assess and identify any abnormalities that affect function and activities of daily living. It should allow us to create individual, patient-centred goals and ultimately a tailor-made treatment plan based on the client's needs.


History of Present Condition

  • Progression of the Condition
  • Date of Onset of Signs & Symptoms
  • Medical Management
  • Medical Observations
  • Other management
  • Previous Therapy
  • Results of Specific Investigations (X-rays, CT Scans, Blood Tests)

Past Medical History 

  • Co-morbidities and other non-related conditions
  • Special Equipment, Technology Dependency
  • Previous Surgery
  • Medication History

Subjective Assessment

The subjective assessment is used to provide a detailed picture of how the present condition affects the patient. 

Social History

  • Social Situation
  • Family Support
  • Accommodation
  • Social Service Support


  • Normal Daily Routine
  • Employment
  • Leisure Activities


  • General
  • Indoor
  • Outdoor
  • Steps & Stairs
  • Falls

Personal Care

  • Washing
  • Continence
  • Dressing


  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Swallowing
  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Perceptions of own Problems/Main Concern
  • Expectations of Treatment

Objective Assessment

Posture and Balance

  • Alignment
  • Neglect
  • Sitting Balance
  • Standing Balance

Voluntary Movement

  • Range of Movement
  • Strength
  • Endurance
  • Coordination 
    Finger to Nose Test
    Heel to Shin Test
    Rapidly Alternating Movement

Involuntary Movement

  • Tremor
  • Clonus
  • Chorea
  • Associated Reactions


  • Decreased / Flaccid
  • Increased
    Spasticity (Clasp-knife)
    Rigidity (Cogwheel or Lead Pipe)


  • Deep Tendon Reflexes
    Biceps (C5/6)
    Triceps (C7/8)
    Knee (L3/4)
    Ankle (S1/2)
  • Plantar Response (Babinski’s Sign)

Babinski Sign Test video provided by Clinically Relevant


  • Light Touch
  • Pin Prick
  • Two Point Discrimination
  • Vibration Sense
  • Joint Position Sense
  • Temperature
  • Vision and Hearing

Functional Activities

  • Bed Mobility
  • Sitting Balance
  • Transfers
  • Upper Limb Function
  • Mobility
  • Stairs


  • Pattern
  • Distance
  • Velocity
  • Use of Walking Aids
  • Orthoses
  • Assistance
  • Cognitive Status
  • Attention
  • Orientation
  • Memory


  1. Johnson J, Thompson AJ. Rehabilitation in a neuroscience centre: the role of expert assessment and selection. British Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation. 1996 Jun;3(6):303-8.