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deep tendon reflex

An automatic motor response elicited by stimulating stretch receptors in subcutaneous tissues surrounding joints and tendons. The assessment is typically made by striking a tendon (e.g., Achilles, patellar, biceps, triceps, or brachioradialis tendons) with a weighted hammer. Brisk or hyperactive responses are seen in conditions such as hyperthyroidism, stroke, pre-eclampsia, or spastic disorders; diminished responses may be seen in patients with hypothyroidism, drug intoxication, and flaccid neuromuscular disorders, among others.


area of skin that the sensory nerve fibers of a particular spinal nerve innervate

pronator drift

patient has eyes closed and both arms extended and supinated. If one arm drifts down and pronates, this may indicate a neurological problem


the quality of moving or acting in spasms


paralysis of one side of the body


partial paralysis of the right or left half of the body


paralysis of both legs and the lower part of the body


paralysis of both arms and both legs

ankle clonus

Patient may be seated or supine, the ankle is "jammed" into dorsiflexion and monitored for alternating dorsiflexion/plantarflexion (clonus). May be normal to have 2-3 clonic jerks, 3+ is positive and considered abnormal.

brudzinkski's sign

Flexion of the hip and knee when the neck is flexed; Sign of meningitis

kernig's sign

Sign of meningitis; positive when the leg is fully bent at the hip and knee, and subsequent extension of the knee leads to pain

flaccid paralysis

floppy muscles, decreased muscle tone, and decreased reflexes due to damage to the spinal nerves or brainstem motor neurons and the inability to get impulse to the muscles

doll's eye movement

Newborn babys have what is termed a doll's eye reflex (a normal response in newborns to keep the eyes stationary as the head is turned to the right or left). This reflex disappears as ocular fixation develops.

dolls eyes

checks brainstem function, eyes move opposite of the way the head is turned


muscular twitching of contiguous groups of muscle fibers


sudden, involuntary jerking of a muscle or group of muscles


symptoms of taking antipsychotic medications that include parkinsonism, dystonia and tremors, uncontrollable, involuntary, parkinsonian-like tremors and movements (disruption of the normal balance of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and dopamine within the basal ganglia.).

pyramidal tract

any of the important motor nerves on each side of the central nervous system that run from the sensorimotor areas of the cortex through the brainstem to motor neurons of the cranial nerve nuclei and the ventral horn of the spinal cord

basal ganglia system

The basal ganglia functions w/cerebellum to make smooth, coordinated movement.
-The basal ganglia has inhibitory motion control and produces dopamine.
-The cerebellum has excitatory control and likely produces Ach

cerebellar system

A complex motor system that coordinates movement, maintains equilibrium, and helps maintain posture. Receives information about the position of muscles and joints, the body's equilibrium, and what kind of motor messages are being sent from the cortex to the muscles.


Mild to moderate reduction in arousal (awakens) w/ limited response to the environment; falls asleep unless stimulated verbally or tactilely; answers questions w/ minimum response

meningeal signs

Meningitis: swelling of meninges, layers of protective tissue around the brain
Kernig's Sign (1)
Brudzinski's Sign (2)
Both of these signs are thought to be caused by the irritation of motor nerve roots passing through inflamed meninges as the roots are brought under tension.
Neck Stiffness/Nuchal Rigidity


the ability to sense the position and location and orientation and movement of the body and its parts

moro reflex

infant startle response to sudden, intense noise or movement. When startled the newborn arches its back, throws back its head, and flings out its arms and legs.

palmar grasp

a reflex in the newborn, which is elicited by placing a finger firmly in the infant's palm.

tonic neck reflex

when infant is supine and head turns to one side, the same arm and leg are extended, and the same arm and leg are flexed. this disappears after 3-4 months, and then the head is maintained at midline

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