What Happens During a Neurological Exam?

During a neurological exam, a neurologist will make an assessment of a patient’s brain, and possibly their spinal cord, nerves, and muscles, to assess their function and identify any irregularities, inconsistencies, or disorders. 

Private neurology assessments can help diagnose a range of conditions: from brain tumours and movement disorders, to sensory and coordination problems.

Neurological evaluations can be a daunting prospect for patients but, rest assured, the test itself shouldn’t cause you any undue stress. In fact, not seeking a neurological evaluation, when one is recommended, is a far greater cause for concern. 

However, at Dementech, we believe in a supportive and accessible approach, and we understand that you may be feeling unsure or anxious about what to expect in your neurological exam. That’s why we put together this guide, to walk you through the process and alleviate any concerns or reservations you may have. 

And, of course, you can always reach out to our specialist doctors for further information. 

The Importance of a Neurological Assessment

A neurological exam is an essential tool for evaluating brain and nervous system function. It helps diagnose a range of neurological disorders, including brain tumours, movement disorders, and sensory or coordination problems. 

By assessing the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and muscles, a neurologist can identify any abnormalities or disorders and recommend appropriate treatment.

Regular neurological evaluations are crucial – especially for those with a history of neurological conditions or symptoms. They can help detect problems early and prevent further damage to the nervous system. 

Different Types of Neurological Tests

During a neurological assessment, your neurologist will use a range of tests to assess different aspects of your nervous system, including your brain. 

These tests will help to identify any issues with your: 

  • Movements
  • Reflexes
  • Coordination
  • Sensation
  • Vision
  • Speech

Some of the most common types of neurological tests include physical exams, diagnostic imaging, and laboratory tests. 

Physical exams may involve tests of your reflexes, strength, and sensation, while diagnostic imaging may include CT or MRI scans to examine your brain and spinal cord. Laboratory tests can include blood tests, to check for signs of infection, inflammation, or other underlying conditions. 

In some cases, your neurologist may also perform specialised tests, such as electroencephalography (EEG) to measure your brain activity, or electromyography (EMG) to assess the function of your muscles and nerves.

Why Have I Been Asked? Should I Be Worried?  

Neurological tests may be recommended for various reasons, including unexplained symptoms such as weakness, coordination problems, or changes in vision. 

Patients should not panic if they are asked to undergo a neurological evaluation, as it is a routine procedure to help diagnose or rule out potential neurological conditions. Timely consultation with a specialist can help ensure the best possible treatment and management of any underlying condition. 

It is important to discuss any concerns or questions with your doctor, and to follow their recommendations for testing and care.

What to Expect During a Neurological Exam

During a neurological exam, your neurologist will perform a series of tests to evaluate your nervous system function. 

Here are some of the steps you can expect during a neurological examination:

  1. Medical history: Your neurologist will ask about your medical history, including any symptoms you are experiencing, medications you are taking, and previous medical procedures.
  2. Physical examination: They will likely examine your physical coordination, reflexes, muscle strength, and sensitivity to touch.
  3. Cranial nerve examination: Your neurologist may test your ability to perform certain tasks, such as following an object with your eyes, smelling different scents, or tasting different flavours.
  4. Neurological tests: In some cases, a neurologist might decide to perform additional tests, such as an electromyogram (EMG) or a nerve conduction study (NCS), to evaluate nerve function.
  5. Imaging tests: If your neurologist suspects a brain or spinal cord abnormality, they may order imaging tests such as a CT scan, MRI, or PET scan.

How Can I Prepare? 

Before a neurological assessment, you may want to make notes on any symptoms you’re experiencing, as well as the dates they began. Bring a list of any medications you’re taking, including any over-the-counter drugs, and any questions you may have. 

Wear comfortable clothing and be prepared to remove any jewellery or accessories that may interfere with the examination. 

Finally, remember that there’s no need to worry or be nervous. The neurological exam is a routine part of healthcare and your doctor is there to help you. Just relax, be honest with your doctor, and let them take care of the rest.

Interpreting the Results

After completing a neurological exam, a neurologist will interpret the results and explain what they mean for your health. If the results suggest a neurological disorder or condition, the neurologist may recommend further testing or treatment. 

It’s important to remember that not all neurological symptoms are caused by serious conditions, and that a specialist neurologist is best equipped to interpret the results and recommend appropriate next steps.

Even if the results do not indicate the presence of any underlying conditions, it’s still important to follow up with your neurologist if symptoms persist or worsen. Remember: early detection and treatment of neurological disorders can improve outcomes, so don’t hesitate to seek specialised care if you have concerns. 

Your Neurological Examination in London: Expert Care, Specialist Assessments 

Sometimes, it’s necessary for patients to undergo a neuro exam. A specialist neurologist may recommend a complete neurological exam, a sensory exam, or another type of evaluation, for one of many reasons: they may want to check your cranial nerves, mental status, determine the presence of muscle weakness, or investigate a suspected nervous system disorder, for instance. 

We know that being asked in for an examination, to check for the presence of nervous system disorders, can be an alarming and unsettling prospect. 

Remember that, at this stage, there’s no reason to be unduly concerned. The specialists at your private neurology clinic have your best interests at heart – this is just one aspect of their performing due diligence. 

Trust the experts, work with them and, above all, never skip neurological examinations when they are recommended. This is the best way to ensure your mental health, safety, and happiness. 

If you or a loved one are considering a neurological examination, you can book an appointment here


Have a question regarding an upcoming appointment? Not sure what to expect in your neurological evaluation? Or simply searching for further information? Explore our FAQs below. 

What is done during a neurological assessment?

A neurological assessment typically involves evaluating the patient’s mental status, cranial nerves, motor and sensory systems, reflexes, and coordination. This may include a physical exam, medical history review, and various tests to assess brain function.

Why does a neurologist look at your tongue?

A neurologist may look at the patient’s tongue as part of a neurological exam to evaluate cranial nerve function. The tongue is controlled by several cranial nerves, and observing its movement can provide information about potential neurological issues.

How long does a neurological exam take, and is it painful?

The duration of a neurological exam varies depending on the complexity of the patient’s condition. Typically, the exam takes around 30-60 minutes and is not painful. Patients may feel discomfort during some tests, but these are typically brief and well-tolerated.

Can I drive or go back to work after a neurological exam?

Most patients can resume normal activities after a neurological exam, including driving and work. However, if the exam involves sedation or other procedures that may impair driving ability, patients should arrange for a ride home.

Are there any risks or complications associated with a neurological evaluation?

Neurological evaluations are generally safe, non-invasive, and well-tolerated. In rare cases, patients may experience discomfort or adverse reactions to certain tests. However, these risks are minimal and usually outweighed by the benefits of the exam.

How can I prepare for the neurological exam, and what should I bring to the appointment?

To prepare for a neurological exam, patients should gather their medical history, medication list, and any relevant test results. They should also wear comfortable clothing and avoid wearing makeup or jewellery that may interfere with the exam. Patients should also follow their doctor’s instructions regarding food and drink restrictions before the exam.