Clinical Tip: Testing reflexes without a hammer

April 1, 2005

When checking knee reflexes, press down on the dorsum of the foot while tapping the patellar tendon. This maneuver overcomes inhibition of the reflex, so that a brisk tap with the side of the index finger elicits a good response. Using the index finger avoids the need for a reflex hammer, which may upset the child. Parents are intrigued to see such a lively demonstration of their child's circuitry.

When checking knee reflexes, press down on the dorsum of the foot while tapping the patellar tendon. This maneuver overcomes inhibition of the reflex, so that a brisk tap with the side of the index finger elicits a good response. Using the index finger avoids the need for a reflex hammer, which may upset the child. Parents are intrigued to see such a lively demonstration of their child's circuitry.

Mary C. Darken, MDNew Orleans, La.

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