4Stroke RecognitionThe Cincinnati prehospital stroke scale is, by far, the most widely used stroke screening tool for EMS crews in the United States. Nearly 80% of all strokes will manifest at least one of these 3 symptoms and a high level of sophistication with neurological assessment is not required to perform it.In areas of the hospital that do not regularly care for neuro patients, we encourage nursing staff to use this tool to assess for possible stroke. If symptoms exist, the RRT is called and they perform additional screening and notify the stroke neurologist.~80% of ischemic strokes will have one or more of these symptoms4
5Neuro Assessment Level of Consciousness Level of Consciousness is most likely to be impaired in patients with hemorrhagic or large ischemic strokes
6Neuro Assessment Orientation/Ability to Follow Commands
7Neuro Assessment Glasgow Coma Scale The Glasgow Coma Scale score only needs to be assessed if the patient has an altered level of consciousness (LOC)Remember that the GCS is only intended to measure eye opening, verbal response and motor response as it relates to LOC. It does not replace assessment of motor strength, speech, or eye function.
8Neuro Assessment Cognitive Ability Altered cognitive ability is very common following stroke and is associated with an increased risk for fallsPoor judgment, impaired recent memory and impulsiveness are most common
9Neuro Assessment Speech (Presence of Dysarthria) Dysarthria is usually associated with facial droop or tongue weakness and indicates a risk for impaired swallowing
10Neuro Assessment Communication/Language (Aphasia) Common abnormalities include word finding difficulty, hesitant or stuttering speech and use of wrong or made-up words.Aphasia is often mistaken for confusion!
11Neuro Assessment Pupils-Oculomotor III Pupils should be assessed in any stroke patient with an altered level of consciousness or who is at risk for increased ICPHemorrhagic Strokes (ICH and SAH)Large ischemic stroke, in particular strokes resulting from middle cerebral artery (MCA) occlusion or in the cerebellum
15Neuro Assessment Facial Motor and Sensory-Trigeminal V There are 2 branches of the facial nerve so ask the patient to smile to test the lower face and close eyes tightly against resistance and/or wrinkle forehead for upper faceThere are 3 branches of the trigeminal nerve so test sensation in all 3 areas of the face.Use the “Is the same or different?” testing method.
16Neuro Assessment Tongue-Hypoglossal XII It is important to test to tongue function to identify patients at risk for impaired swallowingTesting:Ask the patient to stick out tongue and move side to sideThe tongue will deviate toward the weak side
17Neuro Assessment Visual Field Cut-Optic II Visual Field Testing:Have patient look at the examiner’s noseExaminer holds out his/her arms at approximately 45°, 1½ - 2 feet from the patientExaminer varies moving fingers on the right, left or both hands and the patient identifies which are being movedPatients with expressive aphasia may need to point to indicate where movement is seen.
18Neuro Assessment Motor Strength Hand grasps, dorsi and plantar flexion are helpful but testing of the arms and legs is most useful in stroke patients.
19Neuro Assessment Upper Motor Strength Check upper and lower extremities for strength against gravity/resistance, compare one side to the otherHand grasps bilaterallyPush hands against yoursHave pull arms towards themselvesUpper extremities:Ask patient to raise arms and hold up for approximately 10 secondsIf unable to lift arms off bed, raise arms for the patient then release and observe ability to keep raisedIf able to overcome gravity, provide resistance by pressing down on extremities and assess the patient’s strength against your own.
20Neuro Assessment Lower Motor Strength Lower extremities:Ask patient to raise legs, one at a time and hold each up for approximately 5 secondsIf unable to raise leg off bed, raise leg for patient, then release and observe ability to keep it raisedTest strength against resistance as with the upper extremitiesPlantar flexion/dorsiflexionPronator drift (tests for mild weakness)Have the patient hold out arms with palms up and eyes closedWatch for downward drift of the arm for several secondsThe patient’s eyes must be closed because s/he will correct the drift if it is seen
21Neuro Assessment Sensation of the arms and legs Gross Sensory Assessment: “Does it feel the same or different?”Ask the patient to report any perceived numbness, tingling, etc.To perform a general sensory exam:Brush your finger or an object against the upper arms and upper legs and ask if the patient is able to feel it. Test one side, then the other.If the patient is able to feel both sides, test both simultaneously and ask if the two sides feel the same or different
22Neuro Assessment Coordination/Balance-Cerebellum Testing – Have patient:hold arms out to sides then alternate touching nose with right and left index fingersalternate between own nose and examiners finger, test one arm, then the othermove heel down the shin from knee to ankleLimb ataxia cannot be tested in patients with significant weakness
23Neuro Assessment Coordination/Balance-Cerebellum Observe gait during ambulation.Ataxic and wide-based gaits are common in patients with impaired coordination or balance.