Glossary of Terms
Advanced Activities of Daily Living (AADL): Advanced skills that are considered vital to an individual’s independent living in the community. Examples of AADL’s include: managing finances, cooking, shopping, home chores, driving, and working.
Afferent: A conduction of impulses from the periphery of the body to the brain or spinal cord.
Agonistic: The principle muscle or muscle group that produces a joint motion or maintains upright posture via eccentric, concentric, or isometric contraction.
Alpha Motor Neuron: Serves as the connection between the Central Nervous System and the extrafusal muscle fibers of skeletal muscle and are directly responsible for initiating a muscle contraction. They are also referred to as lower motor neurons.
Antagonistic: The muscle or muscle group that demonstrates the opposite anatomic action of the agonist.
Babinski Reflex: An abnormal response to stimulation of the plantar surface of the foot in which the great toe extends with simultaneous abduction of the other toes, instead of the normal response of toe flexion. Considered to be indicative of pyramidal tract involvement.
Basic Activities of Daily Living (BADL): Skills required for daily self care. Examples of BADL’s include: feeding, dressing, toileting, bathing, and physical mobility (transferring and ambulation).
Central Nervous System (CNS): Consists of the brain and spinal cord, which function to control and regulate all mental and physical functions.
Cerebral Palsy (CP): A non-progressive lesion of the brain that results in abnormal posturing and voluntary movements caused by damage to the motor control centers of the brain during pregnancy, birth, or early after birth.
Cerebral Vascular Accident (CVA): A sudden loss of neurological function caused by a change in blood flow to the brain due to ischemia (from a thrombus or emboli) or hemorrhage of a vessel.
Clonus: A series of involuntary muscular contractions and relaxations in response to a sustained or a sudden stretch of a muscle.
Contralateral: Opposite side
Deep Tendon Reflex: A muscle contraction resulting from tapping on a muscle tendon or body that stimulates the IA afferent fibers of the muscle spindle.
Dendrites: Receive nerve impulses from other cells and transmit them towards the cell body.
Differential Diagnosis: A systematic listing of possible diagnoses from most likely to least likely.
Distal: Further from the center/midline of the trunk when compared to another part; the opposite of proximal (i.e., the ankle is distal to the hip).
Dorsal: The back surface of a structure. Also referred to as the posterior side.
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