Neurology should be fun!!!!

A letter from Sister Lazarus

Hi, Doc. I wanted to thank you for putting your site together. It is very helpful to have plain English explanations of neurological terminology. I have been referred to a neurologist because I have foot-drop in my right foot and am beginning to have episodes of foot-drop in my left foot. All of my doctors have been unable to elicit any reflexes from my upper or lower body. They hit me and nothing happens then they hit me again and nothing happens. Then they ask me to clench my jaw as they hit me and nothing happens. Then they make me sit in odd positions and hit me. And, yup, nothing happens. What on earth are they looking for? I think they think I am a bit mad because after a while I just can’t help laughing at them. Whacking people with hammers is like being in the Stone Age or something. In my imagination I can see a dinosaur sitting in a hospital gown on an examination couch and a doctor has just come out from  behind a curtain weighing an enormous stone club in his hands and he’s saying, ‘if this doesn’t get a response nothing will…’ and the dinosaur’s eyebrows are up off his forehead — like a Far Side Cartoon. I don’t know, it just strikes me as very, very funny, especially when the same doctors then send me off for space age scans in MRI machines. It is so weird – blunt instruments and quantum mechanics all in the same day. Neurologists are a breed apart. I don’t know if you know how strange you are…? I mean that in the nicest possible way 😉

Anyway, would you please put a page together for your website explaining what the doctors are looking for when they whack their patients with hammers and what it means when they get or don’t get a reaction? I would appreciate it (and I think other patients would too).

With many thanks,

All best wishes,

Sister Lazarus

Dear Sister Lazarus,
                                   thank you for your kind email. It brought a smile to my face. I shall certainly put up your post on my website (with your permission I hope) and shall help explain the mystery behind eliciting deep tendon reflexes with the use of a reflex hammer. May I tell you something. I have noticed that even my most serious/ tough patient shall break into a smile or a giggle when I tap on their reflexes. Maybe for that reason itself I shall keep the mystery of the reflex hammer a mystery.
Personal Regards,

Nitin Sethi, MD

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