As a nurse and nursing student, you will learn how to assess the deep tendon reflexes. In this article, I will discuss how to assess the biceps tendon reflex along with a video demonstration.
The deep tendon reflex examination is part of the neuro assessment for the nursing head to toe assessment. This assessment is usually conducted during the head-to-toe nursing assessment. Nurses do not routinely assess the deep tendon reflexes unless they work in settings such as labor and delivery or neurology or a patient’s condition warrants it (electrolyte imbalances etc.).
Why do nurses assess the deep tendon reflexes?
It helps evaluate the lower motor neurons/fibers at certain levels of the body. For example, the triceps reflex evaluates C7 to C8, and the brachioradialis reflex evaluate C5 to C6.
Grading Scale for Deep Tendon Reflexes
4+ Hyperactive (clonus)
3+ Brisker than normal (hyperreflexive)
1+ Diminished (hyporeflexive)
Demonstration on How to Assess Biceps Deep Tendon Reflex
How to Assess the Biceps Deep Tendon Reflex
- Find the biceps tendon
- Locate the antecubital fossa area of the elbow (bend of the elbow) and have the patient flex the bicep. Palpate the area right below the bicep and find the cord-like area…this is the tendon and keep your thumb on this area.
- Relax the patient’s arm and bicep by positioning it over the thigh.
- Tap your thumb (which is over the tendon) briskly with the reflex hammer TIP: don’t swing the hammer too slow or fast and don’t leave the hammer on the tendon after tapping the tendon
Expected Response of the Biceps Deep Tendon Reflex
You will see the forearm flex and the bicep contract.