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 patellar 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 Patellar Deep Tendon Reflex
How to Assess the Patellar Deep Tendon Reflex
- Find the patellar tendon.
- Locate the knee cap area and have the patient extend the leg. You will find the tendon becomes more pronounce right below the knee cap.
- Now have the patient relax and dangle the leg.
- Tap with the reflex hammer briskly on the patellar tendon.
Expected Response of the Patellar Deep Tendon Reflex
You will see the lower leg extend.