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Archive for April, 2012

The Cranial Nerves

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Well, the ski season is over for most of us and spring is coming out. Now is the time to find those other extra¬†curricular activities¬†to spend time with. This post is inspired by a fellow ski friend of mine that displayed some odd behavior the other day. Picture this scenario, you’re roller skiing and your buddy decides he is too cool for his helmet, and takes it off. One pot hole later, and he’s laying in the street seeing stars and is losing sensation in his face. In the realm of athletic training, there are functional tests we ask athletes to perform to make sure all twelve cranial nerves are working optimally. Usually these are damaged with blows to the head, but crazier things have happened. Here are the twelves nerves, and how to test them

I. Olfactory- Sense of smell, to test: take a swab of rubbing alochol, a sweaty ski boot, something pungent, etc

II. Optic- Vision, to test: Pick words at a distance for them to read

III. Occulomotor- Vision, to test: Remove the Rudys, cover one of their eyes, move hand and see if the pupil returns to normal

IV. Trochlear- Vision, to test: Take your finger and move it from side to side and watch their eye tracking

V. Trigeminal- Facial sensation, chewing, to test: Have them clench their jaw, or try to open their water belt with their teeth

VI. Abducens- Vision, to test: Take your finger and move it diagonally watching eye tracking again

VII. Facial- Facial expressions, to test: Tell them to smile and scrunch their face up, frown, etc

VIII. Vestibulocochlear- Hearing/Balance, to test: rub your fingers together next to their ears to see if they can hear, have them stand up and balance on one foot

IX. Glossopharyngeal- Swallowing/Gag reflex, to test: give them some water to swallow

X. Vagus- Swallowing/Gag reflex, to test: tell them to stick their finger in their throat until they gag…don’t induce vomiting here now, just a small gag reflex

XI. Accessory- Swallowing, Innervation of neck, to test: tell them to shrug shoulders

XII. Hypoglossal- Tongue movement, to test: Tell them to stick their tongue out


Hopefully your friend has learned that wearing a helmet is a necessity, and that losing cranial nerve function can be slightly embarrassing! Protect your heads out there

These junior campers know how cool helmets are