Do basic neurologic assessments tell us more than we realize?

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BACKGROUND: Neurologic assessments using a monofilament and a tuning fork are routinely performed to screen for peripheral neuropathy and to identify foot ulceration and amputation risks. We investigated whether assessments commonly used to monitor sensation in the feet may illuminate a more holistic perspective of a person's overall health status. METHODS: Recruitment of 50 participants for foot health screening was facilitated via a promotional event for Foot Health Week. Participants were aged 52 to 92 years (31 women and 19 men). Monofilament and tuning fork assessments were used to determine each participant's neurologic status. Participants also completed a modified Foot Health Status Questionnaire. Data were analyzed to identify correlations between neurologic assessment results and questionnaire responses. RESULTS: For participants self-reporting an "excellent" health rating, a significant relationship was identified with adequate vibration sensation (P < .01). Significant correlations were also identified between a greater number of sites detected using a 10-g monofilament assessment and a person's experience of having a lot of energy (P = .03), limited interference with social activities (P = .03), and greater confidence completing a variety of functional tasks. CONCLUSIONS: Significant correlations were observed between basic neurologic assessments and a participant's perception of their overall health. Although these findings reflect a correlational rather than a causational relationship, they may provide a stimulus for clinicians to reflect on the holistic value of peripheral neurologic assessment. Although the immediate focus for a practitioner is minimizing risk and preserving tissue viability, neurologic test results may be useful to stimulate further discussion about a patient's health outcomes by exploring issues beyond the presenting condition.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Podiatric Medical Association
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sept 2023


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