Focal neurologic deficits
A focal neurologic 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.
In contrast, a nonfocal problem is NOT specific to a certain area of the brain. It may include a general loss of consciousness or emotional problem.
Neurological deficits - focal
A focal neurologic problem can affect any of these functions:
Other examples of focal loss of function include:
Anything that damages or disrupts any part of the nervous system can cause a focal neurologic deficit. Examples include:
Home care depends on the type and cause of the problem.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
If you have any loss of movement, sensation, or function, call your health care provider.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your provider will take your medical history and perform a physical examination.
The physical examination will include a detailed examination of your nervous system function.
Which tests are done depends on your other symptoms and the possible cause of the nerve function loss. Tests are used to try to locate the part of the nervous system that is involved. Common examples are:
Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL. Diagnosis of neurological disease. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 1.
Griggs RC, Jozefowicz RF, Aminoff MJ. Approach to the patient with neurologic disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 396.
Review Date: 10/18/2018
Reviewed By: Alireza Minagar, MD, MBA, Professor, Department of Neurology, LSU Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, LA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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