|Tests to be performed - Patellar tendon reflex examination with the patient positioned in sitting
Expected findings - Palpable and/or observe a visible contraction of the quadriceps, slight to moderate extension of the knee, and equivalent reactivity when compared to the contralateral extremity
Equipment - Non-latex Taylor (i.e., tomahawk style hammer) or neurological reflex hammer
- The distal thigh and knee must be readily palpated and free of restrictive clothing (i.e., a tightly rolled up pant leg).
- Have the patient sit on the examination table with his/her feet dangling above the floor.
- Stand in front and lateral to the knee as to avoid being struck by the patient’s foot if there is a brisk or exaggerated response.
- Localize the patellar tendon.
- The quadriceps muscle is typically relaxed and reinforcement is usually not required with this procedure.
- Allow the reflex hammer to swing loosely between your thumb and forefinger through a 45 to 60 degree arc, while making certain the hammer moves in a horizontal plane (i.e., broad end of the reflex hammer is perpendicular to the tendon).
- Strike the tendon just below the patella and above its bony insertion on the tibia.
- Standardize the size of reflex hammer and force if needed.
- Palpate and visually observe the response to the provided stimulus (i.e., contraction of the quadriceps and extension of the knee).
- Repeat the procedure.
- Document your findings.