Paramedics Course – Nervous System Assessment

Nervous System Assessment

Micro Lecture by the Australian Paramedical College


In this micro lecture, APC Hon. Snr. Lecturer Sam Willis discusses the nervous system assessment, one of the more technical aspects of paramedic practice.


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Nervous System Assessment


Welcome to a lecture on the nervous system. My name is Sam Willis and I’m the senior lecturer of the Australian Prime Medical College. Now, this session is designed to give you a bit of a snapshot into nervous system assessment. It will also provide you with a bit of  a recap of the different parts and divisions of the nervous system, but of course this is one of the more technical aspects of paramedic practice. So you really are going to need to do quite a bit of reading around the nervous system, which nodes do which function. Because remember what the nervous system is designed to do, you have these nerves or neurons that are constantly collecting information about the outside world and they’re relaying them up to the brain to be processed, so that some kind of action or reaction can take place. So, that’s really what we’re going to talk about today.

So, we’re going to take a look at the different parts of the nervous system, the different divisions. We’re not going to go into a massive amount of depth because we don’t want to overwhelm you with knowledge. We’re going to recognize a number of nervous system assessments and the reason behind this. So for example, the 12 cranial nerves that stemmed from the spinal cord will give you some indications as to how to assess these and what you’re looking for. We’re going to talk about the components of the face arm speech test in order to identify a cerebrovascular accident or a stroke. And of course, we’ll be talking about the nexus criteria when managing the patient with suspected trauma. So as you can see in the short session, we’re covering quite a bit of content here, so don’t forget you can pause the session at anytime, all right.

So, let’s start with the basics then. So the central nervous system is made up of the brain and spinal cord. That’s the central nervous system. There’s also this thing called the peripheral nervous system, which is divided further into the autonomic and somatic nervous system. These have specialized functions. Now, we’re going to focus mainly on the central nervous system. And remember what we said, the nervous system sends information about the internal and external world to the brain for a response. Injury and illness can affect the functioning of the nervous system and as the paramedic, it really is your job to try and work out what is the primary cause of you being called and is there any nervous system involvement. In other words, has the injury or illness started to affect the nervous system and the real only way you can determine this is through a thorough history taking as well as a focused neurological assessment, combined with all of your experiences or knowledge around the nervous system.

So, this is what we’ve just said, and I do think that a picture paints a thousand words. Here you have the central nervous system here, which is the brain and the spinal cord. That’s the central nervous system. And then the peripheral nervous system is the autonomic and the sematic divisions of the peripheral nervous system. So as you can see, there’s a lot to think about here. I mean, even the specialists, scientists are still working out parts of the brain, they are still trying to find exactly what every part of the brain does. We’re finding things out about it all the time. So, we’ve mentioned that the central nervous system includes the brain and the spinal cord. I had to put this in here because you need to know that the spinal cord runs down through the spinal vertebrae. Now, these parts here are the back or the posterior portions of the vertebrate, easiest spinal processes.

Imagine if there was a patient attached to this spine, they would be facing that way, so they would be facing forwards. So, this part here is the back, this is the front. Notice how the spinal cord, and the vertebrate is S-shaped. And notice how you’ve got this thing here called the brain stem, which is really important part of the brain. It really does keep you alive. It controls the respiratory and cardiac nerves. So having a look on here, this really does zoom in and shows you where the vertebrae, and the cord sits. So here you’ve got the cord and it sits directly in between the anterior and the posterior bones. And then you’ve got these other pink things here called disks, and the purpose of the disk is to help to take basically some of the shock. There are many shock absorbers, and they sit in between each vertical bone to the called intervertebral discs…

For more information about courses & becoming a Medic / Paramedic or any other professional in the pre-hospital emergency health care sector Contact the Australian Paramedical College today:

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