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Introduction
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Introduction

Health care professionals are expected to perform a variety of tests and measures to effectively evaluate a patient's condition. The assessment of cranial nerve integrity is an essential component of a comprehensive clinical neurological examination and assessment. Furthermore, it should be equally obvious that the consequences of failing to identify a more serious underlying neurological condition can lead to an inaccurate differential diagnosis, inappropriate and unneeded interventions, poor utilization of health care resources, unsuccessful outcomes, delayed treatment, morbidity, and mortality.

In the context of the clinical examination and evaluation of cranial nerve integrity, the patient interview and iterative clinician-patient interactions combined with the tests and measures included in this module would seek to identify an aggregate or cluster of symptoms to be communicated in an appropriate referral or differential diagnosis. These factors will vary based on the scope of practice of the clinician providing care (i.e., Physical Therapist, Physician Assistant, Family Practice Physician, Neurologist, etc.) but would seek to adhere to the following guidelines in all cases: 1) the use of scientific methods of testing and classification (i.e., hypothesis oriented), 2) the use of commonly accepted medical, anatomical or biomechanical terminology, 3) the application of mutually exclusive and exhaustive categories of clinical entities, 4) the use of distinct and recognizable clinical presentations, and 5) validation through scientific inquiry.

In terms of the limitations of clinical cranial nerve assessment, it should be noted that findings are often provisional based on such factors as further examination, evaluation, trial interventions, patient outcomes, and diagnostic imaging. Furthermore, clinicians should only use diagnostic labels that they can substantiate directly through domain specific tests and measures or indirectly through interpretation of medical tests, procedures, and/or through consultation with other health care professionals. Cumulatively, the health care professional should always remember: "You only find what you look for, and you only look for what you know."

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Section: Introduction
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Page 1 of 9
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