Source:Tracey A. Milligan, MD; Tamara B. Kaplan, MD; Neurology, Brigham and Women's/Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
There are two main types of reflexes that are tested on a neurological examination: stretch (or deep tendon reflexes) and superficial reflexes. A deep tendon reflex (DTR) results from the stimulation of a stretch-sensitive afferent from a neuromuscular spindle, which, via a single synapse, stimulates a motor nerve leading to a muscle contraction. DTRs are increased in chronic upper motor neuron lesions (lesions of the pyramidal tract) and decreased in lower motor neuron lesions and nerve and muscle disorders. There is a wide variation of responses and reflexes graded from 0 to 4+ (Table 1).
DTRs are commonly tested to help localize neurologic disorders. A common method of recording findings during the DTR examination is using a stick figure diagram. The DTR test can help distinguish upper and lower motor neuron problems, and can assist in localizing nerve root compression as well. Although the DTR of nearly any skeletal muscle could be tested, the reflexes that are routinely tested are: brachioradialis, biceps, triceps, patellar, and Achilles (Table 2).
Superficial reflexes are segmental ref…
Physical Examinations III