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Test to be performed - Sharp/dull (pain perception)
Sharp/dull tests the individual’s ability to perceive the difference between a sharp and a dull stimulus. 

Expected findings - The individual will be able to indicate, without hesitation, when a sharp or a dull stimulus is being applied.

Equipment - One of the following: a large safety pin or paper clip, a wooden tongue depressor broken to provide a sharp and dull surface, or a single-use neurological pin.

Testing procedure

  1. Explain the procedure to the patient with his/her eyes open. For example, “I am going to touch parts of your arms (or other body part) with the sharp and dull sides of this broken tongue depressor, and tell me if it is sharp or dull when you feel the touch.”
  2. Demonstrate the procedure with the patient’s eyes open until the patient understands the procedure to be performed.
  3. The patient closes his/her eyes, or vision is otherwise occluded.
  4. Touch the applicable body regions with the sharp or dull end of the stimulus object.
  5. Ask the patient to identify the stimuli as sharp or dull.
  6. Vary the time between stimuli to avoid developing a rhythmic pattern. 
  7. Repeat throughout suspected areas.
  8. Document findings.
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Section: Pain
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