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Phys Ther. 2007 Sep;87(9):1233-42. Epub 2007 Jul 17.

A pragmatic neurological screen for patients with suspected cord compressive myelopathy.

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Department of Community and Family Medicine, and Director of Outcomes Measures, Department of Surgery, Center for Excellence in Surgical Outcomes, Duke University, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


Physical therapists commonly use screening tests to identify upper motoneuron lesions such as cord compressive myelopathy (CCM), the presence of which necessitates appropriate medical referral. Signs and symptoms of CCM include sensory and ataxic changes of the lower extremities, poorly coordinated gait, weakness, tetraspasticity, clumsiness, spasticity, hyperreflexia, and primitive reflexes. Clinical tests and measures such as Hoffmann sign, clonus, Lhermitte sign, the grip and release test, the finger escape sign, the Babinski test, and the inverted supinator sign have historically been used as screens for CCM. For effectiveness as a screen, a clinical test or measure should demonstrate high sensitivity. Diagnostic accuracy studies have shown that clinical tests and measures for CCM often display low sensitivity, indicating that a negative finding may falsely suggest the absence of a condition or disease that actually is present. To counter the low levels of sensitivity, screening should include a combination of a thorough patient history, recognition of and appropriate referral for cauda equina symptoms, and clusters of any pertinent contributory tests and measures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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