Focal Neurological Deficits
The fourth alternative acute element of the ACRM’s definition of MTBI, is the focal neurological deficit:
Focal, (meaning limited to a particular part of the nervous system),
Neurological deficit, (meaning dysfunction in the way the nervous system is responding).
Definition of Focal Neurological Deficits
A focal neurological deficit is a problem with nerve, spinal cord, or brain function. It affects a specific location, such as the left side of the face, right arm, or even a small area such as the tongue. Speech, vision, and hearing problems are also considered focal neurological deficits. The type, location, and severity of the problem can indicate which area of the brain or nervous system is affected.
Focal Neurological deficits issues can effect different functions. For example; movement changes such as paralysis or weakness to extremities. Sometimes loss of muscle tone and be attributed to focal neurological deficits. You may have loss of sensation or numbness. Some other examples may be what they call Horner’s syndrome with mean small pupil on one side, eyelid drooping on one side or sinking of one eye into the socket. Loss of coordination or fine motor skills can also be attributed focal neurological deficits. To continue; poor gag reflex, swallowing difficulties, speech impairments such as aphasia along with many other symptoms.
Cause of Focal Neurological Deficits
Anything that damages or disrupts any part of the nervous system can cause a focal neurologic deficit.
Unlike most evidence of concussion or MTBI, this element will typically be the documented in the medical records.
Signs and Symptoms of Focal Neurological Deficits
Most ER exams will look for this type of sign or symptom. Examples would be problems with hearing, vision and eye movements. We would advocate for much more strenuous examination of focal neurological, such as is now more routinely done after sport concussion.