Affiliations: [a] Concussion Care Centre of Virginia, Ltd, Richmond, VA, USA | [b] Tree of Life Services, Inc, Richmond, VA, USA | [c] VCU Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Richmond, VA, USA | [d] Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA | [e] University of Virginia Brain Injury and Sports Concussion Institute, Charlottesville, VA, USA | [f] Distinguished Clinical Professor of Health Sciences, School of Health Sciences, Touro College, NY, USA
Address for correspondence: Nathan D. Zasler, MD, Concussion Care Centre of Virginia, Ltd., 3721 Westerre Parkway, Suite B, Richmond, VA 23233, USA. Tel.: +1 804 346 1803; Fax: +1 804 346 1956; firstname.lastname@example.org
BACKGROUND: The assessment of any patient or examinee with neurological impairment, whether acquired or congenital, provides a key set of data points in the context of developing accurate diagnostic impressions and implementing an appropriate neurorehabilitation program. As part of that assessment, the neurological physical exam is an extremely important component of the overall neurological assessment.
PURPOSE: In the aforementioned context, clinicians often are confounded by unusual, atypical or unexplainable physical exam findings that bring into question the organicity, veracity, and/or underlying cause of the observed clinical presentation. The purpose of this review is to provide readers with general directions and specific caveats regarding validity assessment in the context of the neurological physical exam.
CONCLUSIONS: It is of utmost importance for health care practitioners to be aware of assessment methodologies that may assist in determining the validity of the neurological physical exam and differentiating organic from non-organic/functional impairments. Maybe more importantly, the limitations of many commonly used strategies for assessment of non-organicity should be recognized and consider prior to labeling observed physical findings on neurological exam as non-organic or functional.