how to do a neurological physiotherapy assessment

How to Do a Neurological Physiotherapy Assessment?

Neurological physiotherapy assessment is a critical component in treating patients with neurological disorders. It’s a comprehensive process undertaken by expert physiotherapists to understand a patient’s condition and develop a customized treatment plan. 

In essence, to conduct a neurological physiotherapy assessment, the therapist examines the patient’s physical abilities, paying particular attention to muscle strength, flexibility, functional movement, balance, and coordination. It’s a hands-on approach, often involving specific tests to gauge neurological function.

Incorporating the findings from this assessment, the physiotherapist designs a program tailored to the patient’s needs. Thus, a neurological physiotherapy assessment is the first crucial step towards recovery and rehabilitation for those experiencing neurological issues.

How to Do a Neurological Physiotherapy Assessment?

A neurological physiotherapy assessment is a systematic evaluation conducted by physiotherapists to assess and identify abnormalities in the nervous system that may affect a person’s function and activities of daily living. This assessment aims to gather information about disordered movement patterns, underlying impairments, and activity limitations to develop an appropriate treatment plan. Let’s explore the key processes involved in a neurological physiotherapy assessment in more detail.

Gathering Subjective Information

The assessment begins by collecting subjective information from the patient. Physiotherapists typically ask questions about the patient’s medical history, current symptoms, and any previous neurological conditions or injuries. This helps in understanding the patient’s specific concerns, goals, and functional limitations related to their neurological condition.

Objective Examination

The objective examination marks the second crucial step in a neurological physiotherapy assessment. It involves a comprehensive evaluation of the patient’s physical abilities, guided by the insights gathered from the subjective information.

Observation and Posture Assessment

During the objective examination, the physiotherapist observes the patient’s posture, alignment, and overall body movements. They assess for any asymmetry or abnormal movement patterns that may indicate neurological impairment. They also observe the patient’s gait, looking for any abnormalities in walking patterns or balance issues.

Assessment of Limb Function

The physiotherapist evaluates the patient’s limb function, including muscle strength, range of motion, and sensation. They may use specific tests to assess muscle strength in different muscle groups and determine if there are any weaknesses or imbalances. Sensation testing involves checking the patient’s ability to feel light touch, pinprick, or vibration in various areas of the body.

Reflexes and Coordination Assessment

Reflexes play a crucial role in neurological assessments. The physiotherapist examines deep tendon reflexes, such as the patellar reflex, to evaluate the integrity of specific nerve pathways. Additionally, tests for coordination, such as finger-to-nose or heel-to-shin movements, help assess cerebellar function and coordination abilities.

Functional Assessment

Functional assessments are conducted to understand the impact of the neurological condition on the patient’s daily activities. These assessments involve observing the patient performing tasks related to mobility, balance, and coordination. The physiotherapist may use standardized scales or questionnaires to measure functional abilities and identify areas of difficulty.

Interpretation of Findings

After completing the objective examination, the physiotherapist interprets the findings based on their clinical expertise and knowledge. They analyze the patient’s strengths, weaknesses, impairments, and functional limitations. This interpretation helps in formulating an accurate diagnosis and developing an individualized treatment plan.

Treatment Planning

Based on the assessment findings, the physiotherapist develops a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to the patient’s specific needs and goals. The plan may include various interventions such as therapeutic exercises, gait training, balance training, coordination exercises, sensory integration techniques, and functional retraining. The aim is to improve movement patterns, enhance strength and range of motion, enhance balance and coordination, and promote functional independence.

Ongoing Evaluation and Progress Monitoring

Throughout the rehabilitation process, ongoing evaluation and progress monitoring are vital components of a neurological physiotherapy assessment. The physiotherapist regularly reassesses the patient’s progress, adjusting treatment techniques and goals accordingly. This ensures that the treatment plan remains effective and addresses any changes or challenges that arise during the rehabilitation process.

Final Words

In conclusion, a neurological physiotherapy assessment involves gathering subjective information and conducting objective examinations, including posture assessment, limb function evaluation, reflexes and coordination assessment, as well as functional assessment. The findings are then interpreted to formulate a treatment plan customized to the patient’s needs. Ongoing evaluation and progress monitoring ensure that the treatment remains effective throughout the rehabilitation process. By following this systematic approach, physiotherapists can provide comprehensive care to individuals with neurological conditions and help them achieve their functional goals.


"Hasan", I am a physiotherapy Doctor. I have completed my B.S.c course (4 years) under Rajshahi University, Faculty of Medicine, Rajshahi. Currently I am working as a clinical physiotherapist at a renowned physiotherapy center and I am continuing my MPT (Master's of physiotherapy) degree at CRP, Savar.

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