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Common disorders that may indicate the need to examine or monitor deep tendon reflexes are as follows:
  • Spinal nerve or nerve root injury or suspected pathology
  • Peripheral nerve injury or suspected pathology
  • Spinal cord injury or suspected pathology
  • Cerebral vascular accident
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • CNS or PNS tumors
  • Metabolic diseases which may lead to peripheral neuropathies (i.e., diabetes)
  • Infections (i.e.,HIV, Lyme disease, encephalitis)

Strengths and limitations of clinical examination procedures
Deep tendon reflex examination procedures included in this module are intended to help the health care practitioner 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, occupational therapist, physician assistant, clinical nurse specialist), but should seek to use scientific methods of testing and classification, accepted terminology, distinct and recognizable clinical presentations, and the validation of findings via objective measures (i.e., EMG, CAT, MRI).

Deep tendon reflex examination performed in isolation will only provide a limited amount of information relative to function and pathology. However, this procedure will be useful in guiding the selection of additional tests and measures and will provide helpful information when reassessed over a period of time.

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Section: Introduction
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