This is a quick NCLEX review about decerebrate vs. decorticate posturing. In this review, I will give you a mnemonic I learned in nursing school on how to tell the difference between these two types of rigidity, along with pictures of these two conditions.
Since the names of these two conditions are similar, some students have problems differentiating between them. Therefore, if you are covering neuro in class right now, I highly recommend you know the difference decorticate and decerebrate……it will most likely be on your exam.
Video on Decerebrate and Decorticate
Decorticate vs. Decerebrate Posturing
These two types of posturing are ABNORMAL and are associated with a brain injury.
Let’s look at the differences between the two:
This is a type of flexed posturing and can indicate damage to the cerebral hemispheres.
There will be adduction and flexion of the arms and the hands will be closed shut (flexed). The legs will be rotated internally and feet flexed.
Mnemonic for decorticate posturing: Remember the letters COR in the word decorticate for the word “core”. The patient will bring their ARMS to the core of the body (middle).
This is a type of extended posturing and can indicate damage to the brain stem. This is the worst type of posturing between the two.
There will be adduction and extension of the arms and pronation of the hands and the fingers will be flexed along with extended legs and plantar flexion of the feet.
Mnemonic for decerebrate posturing: Look at all the E’s in the word. There are a lot of them, so remember the word EXTENDED. The arms are going to be extended rather than flexed.