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Introduction
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Definitions continued

Attention is the ability to focus mental processes on key attributes of a situation while screening out distractions. The ability to count backwards, count forward by 3’s, repeat a list of items, and perform similar activities may help assess attention.

Short Term Memory is the ability to remember information over a short time span. One way to assess short term memory is to tell a patient three common words (i.e., apple, comb, and tree) at the beginning of the assessment and then ask him/her to recall the three words a few minutes later. If the patient has difficulty with this task, he/she may not be able to remember the instructions required for somatosensory testing.

Important considerations
The patient’s language skills, verbal ability, vision, and hearing are also important factors that must be considered prior to undertaking a somatosensory examination. For example, the health care practitioner will need to modify instructions and/or procedures if a patient has visual or hearing impairments. The clinician must be certain that the patient understands and follows examination procedures so that errors in responses can be attributed to sensory deficits rather than language, cognitive, or other unrelated impairments.

Two common methods used for mental status examination
Two common methods for mental status examination are the FOGS method or approach and the MMSE. The two examples of mental status examination are described below.

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Section: Introduction
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