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Testing somatosensation
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Principles and Procedures for Somatosensory Examination
The principal goals of somatosensory examination are to accurately identify altered (e.g., absent or diminished) exteroception, proprioception and/or discriminatory sensation and to quantify and qualify the location, degree and nature of pertinent findings. The following examination principles should be applied to tests and measures covered in this module:

  • Always seek to determine if there is a reason why a patient may have altered or abnormal responses before beginning examination procedures.
  • Make certain to clearly explain all testing procedures before you begin.
  • Give the patient the opportunity to ask questions before and after a given examination procedure.
  • If the patient is unable to respond verbally, the clinician must utilize another communication strategy, such as raising a finger.
  • Tests may need to be repeated up to three non-consecutive times, because inconsistencies in response may indicate deficits.
  • If a deficit is found, systematic testing is required to delineate the, region, boundaries and/or location, etc., of the deficit(s).
  • Equipment used for somatosensory examination must be discarded (e.g., cotton balls and paper clips) or thoroughly cleaned after each use (e.g., tuning fork and test tubes).
  • Make certain that you understand and know how to observe for normal and abnormal responses.
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Section: Exteroception
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