NURS 6512 Assessing Neurological Symptoms

Sample Answer for NURS 6512 Assessing Neurological Symptoms Included After Question


Use the Episodic/Focused SOAP Template and create an episodic/focused note about the patient in the case study to which you were assigned using the episodic/focused note template provided in the Week 5 resources. Provide evidence from the literature to support diagnostic tests that would be appropriate for each case. List five different possible conditions for the patient’s differential diagnosis, and justify why you selected each. 


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A Sample Answer For the Assignment: NURS 6512 Assessing Neurological Symptoms

Title: NURS 6512 Assessing Neurological Symptoms

Patient Information:

Initials: J.K.L             

Age: 40 years

Sex: Female                           

Race: African American

Source: Patient


CC: “I have a headache around my forehead.”

HPI: J.K.L is a 40-year-old African American female who presents with a complaint of a headache across her forehead for a week. The headache is squeezing and feels like pressure behind the eyes. It is non-radiating. The headache is constant and varies in severity ranging from 2/10 at its best to 8/10 at its worst. It is usually worse in the morning and while bending. Acetaminophen reduces the severity of the headache to 4/10 and occasionally 2/10. It is associated with fever, postnasal drip, nasal congestion, sneezing, and occasional non-productive cough. She takes Sudafed HCL 120 mg every 12 hours to obtain some relief. The symptoms have significantly impaired her concentration at work and made her feel very tired. Finally, she reports a head cold three weeks ago.

Current Medications: Pseudoephedrine 120 mg BID for nasal congestion and acetaminophen for headaches.

Allergies: She has no known food and drug allergies.

Past Medical History: During her last visit to the primary care physician 2 months ago, she was noted to be prehypertensive and was advised on lifestyle modifications. No prior hospitalization. No previous surgeries or blood transfusions.

Social History: She is married with two children both alive and well. She works as a secretary Her husband is a college teacher. She neither drinks alcohol nor smokes tobacco. She does not use marijuana or other illicit drugs. She strictly adheres to dietary advice from her nutritionist and she exercises regularly. Denies caffeine intake.

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Family History: Father alive aged 60 years and with hypertension while her mother is 58 years old alive and well. Her brother and sister are 35 and 20 years old respectively, alive and well. Her paternal grandfather died at the age of 80 years due to a heart attack while her paternal grandmother is 78 years and is hypertensive. Her maternal grandfather is 77 years with a history of type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol while her maternal grandmother died at the age of 70 years due to a stroke. No family history of malignancies, mental illness, asthma, sickle cell, or diabetes.

NURS 6512 Assessing Neurological Symptoms
NURS 6512 Assessing Neurological Symptoms


GENERAL: Reports fatigue and occasional fever. Denies weight loss, night sweats, and chills.  

HEENT:  Reports headaches, nasal congestion, post nasal drip, and sneezing. No blurring of vision, visual loss, hearing loss, tinnitus, nose bleeds, ear pain, mouth sores, or sore throat.

SKIN:  no skin lesion or rashes. No abnormal pigmentation.

CARDIOVASCULAR: Negative for palpitations, chest pain, paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea, and peripheral limb edema.

RESPIRATORY:  Occasional non-productive cough. No difficulty in breathing, dyspnea, or orthopnea.

GASTROINTESTINAL: Reports loss of appetite and occasional nausea and vomiting. Denies change in bowel habits, abdominal pain, or distention.

GENITOURINARY: No frequency, dysuria, nocturia, and polyuria. No vaginal itchiness or abnormal vaginal discharge.

NEUROLOGICAL: Reports headache. Denies dizziness, lightheadedness, numbness, tingling, loss of sensation, syncope, and convulsion.

MUSCULOSKELETAL: No muscle pain, joint pains, muscle weakness, or muscle swelling.

HEMATOLOGIC:  No anemia, easy bruising, or bleeding.

LYMPHATICS: Normal lymph nodes

PSYCHIATRIC:  Denies anxiety, depression, suicidal ideations, or hallucinations.

ENDOCRINOLOGIC: Denies heat or cold intolerance, polyphagia, and polydipsia.

ALLERGIES:  Reports no allergies.


Physical exam:

VITAL SIGNS: BP 125/78 mmHg, HR 88 b/min, Temp 99. 8 F, RR 20 b/min, saturation 95% on room air, Height 168 cm, weight 76 Kg. Pain level 5/10

GENERAL: A middle-aged African-American female, well kempt, not in any form of respiratory distress but slight discomfort. Maintains eye contact, coherent speech, and a stable mood. Well-hydrated and nourished. No palmar or conjunctival pallor, jaundice, central or peripheral cyanosis, cervical or inguinal lymphadenopathy, and peripheral limb edema.

HEENT: Normocephalic and atraumatic head. Non-tender scalp. Bilateral eyes with pink conjunctiva and white sclera. Pupils equally and bilaterally reacting to light, no ptosis or lid edema. Normal extraocular movements. Bilateral ears present, no impaction or skin lesions, tympanic membrane pearly grey bilaterally, and positive white reflex. Both nares are present and are discharging mucus, midline nasal septum, and pink and soft nasal mucosa. Tender maxillary and frontal sinus. Moist and pink oral mucosa, no oral lesions or ulceration. Normal dentition and teeth alignment.

NECK: Soft neck. The trachea is central. Full range of motion, non-tender, no cervical lymphadenopathy, and no thyroid enlargement.

CARDIOVASCULAR: Regular heart rate. Normoactive precordium. Point of maximal impulse in the 5th intercostal space in the midclavicular line. S1 and S2 head, no murmurs, thrills, gallops, rubs, or heaves.

RESPIRATORY: Symmetrical chest that moves with respiration. No scars or skin lesions. Equal chest expansion and equal tactile fremitus bilaterally. Equal air entry, vesicular breath sounds, no wheezes, and crackles, and equal vocal fremitus in all lung zones.

NEUROLOGICAL: GCS 15/15, oriented to time, place, and person, intact short-term and long-term memory, good concentration, and a clear coherent speech. Cranial nerves 1 to 12 intact. Normotonic across all joints, normal bulk, and power 5/5 across all muscle groups in upper and lower extremities, deep tendon reflexes 2+ and equal bilaterally in upper and lower limbs. Intact monofilament sensation across all dermatomes, good bowel, and bladder function. No spinal tenderness, normal gait, coordination, graphesthesia, and stereognosis. Normal finger nose, heel to the shin, and rapid alternating movements tests.

Diagnostic results:

J.K.L appears to have an inflammatory/infectious condition. Consequently, complete blood count and inflammatory markers particularly CRP and ESR are paramount. Similarly, bacterial or fungal cultures obtained endoscopically or by direct sinus aspiration are required to identify the possible pathogen. Additionally, a skin prick test is essential to exclude allergic rhinitis. Imaging modalities principally Sinus CT and MRI are recommended to evaluate for rhinosinusitis and intraorbital or intracranial involvement.


Differential Diagnoses

Acute Sinusitis- refers to the inflammation of sinuses lasting less than 4 weeks (DeBoer & Kwon, 2022). The condition is more common in females and particularly during early fall to early spring (DeBoer & Kwon, 2022). It is most commonly caused by viral infection following a common cold although bacteria and fungi are not uncommon etiologies. J.K.L presents with clinical features that are typical of acute sinusitis including fatigue, fever, headache, facial pain, and pressure worse on bending (DeBoer & Kwon, 2022). Maxillary sinuses and frontal sinuses appear to be the affected sinuses in her as evidenced by pain around the forehead and tenderness of the maxillary and frontal sinuses (DeBoer & Kwon, 2022).

Rhinitis- Refers to the inflammation of the nasal mucosa. J.K.L presents with clinical manifestations suggestive of rhinitis including sneezing, nasal congestion, postnasal drip, and rhinorrhea (Liva et al., 2021). Similarly, she reports a “head cold” three weeks ago. Rhinitis is mostly caused by an upper respiratory infection or type 1 hypersensitivity reaction (Liva et al., 2021). However, an upper respiratory tract infection is likely the cause in her case.

Cluster headache- Cluster headache is a type of primary headache that is usually unilateral retro-orbital and characterized by sharp and stabbing pain (Goadsby et al., 2018). Cluster headache may present with symptoms of lacrimation, nasal congestion, rhinorrhea, ptosis, or miosis (Goadsby et al., 2018). However, it is unlikely the diagnosis in her as cluster headache usually lasts for a brief period. Similarly, cluster headaches mostly awake the patient at night.

Migraine headache- Migraine headache is another type of primary headache that may be preceded with or without aura. It is usually pulsating and moderate to severe (Pescador Ruschel & O, 2022). It is common in young women. However, it is unlikely the diagnosis as migraines last 4 to 72 hours if untreated and are typically associated with nausea, vomiting, photophobia, and phonophobia (Pescador Ruschel & O, 2022).

Rebound headache– Commonly referred to as medication overuse headache. Rebound headache predominantly occurs in individuals with primary headaches who overuse analgesia (Micieli & Robblee, 2018). Rebound headaches are more common in females and individuals less than 50 years. Drugs precipitating this headache include barbiturates, acetaminophen, opioids, ergotamine, and triptans (Micieli & Robblee, 2018). However, this is an unlikely diagnosis in J.K.L as a diagnosis of primary headache hasn’t been established.


DeBoer, D. L., & Kwon, E. (2022). Acute Sinusitis.

Goadsby, P., Wei, D.-T., & Yuan Ong, J. (2018). Cluster headache: Epidemiology, pathophysiology, clinical features, and diagnosis. Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology21(5), 3.

Liva, G. A., Karatzanis, A. D., & Prokopakis, E. P. (2021). Review of rhinitis: Classification, types, pathophysiology. Journal of Clinical Medicine10(14), 3183.

Micieli, A., & Robblee, J. (2018). Medication-overuse headache. Journal de l’Association Medicale Canadienne [Canadian Medical Association Journal]190(10), E296–E296. Pescador Ruschel, M., & O, D. J. (2022). Migraine Headache.

A Sample Answer For the Assignment: NURS 6512 Assessing Neurological Symptoms

Title: NURS 6512 Assessing Neurological Symptoms 


CC ” I have pain in both ankles”

HPI: N.T. is a forty-six-year-old white female patient who reported to the facility for a check. She complains of pain in both her ankles, even though she expresses more concern with the right ankle. The patient was playing soccer during the weekend when she heard a pop sound, which led to uncomfortable pain. The patient also experienced swelling following the pop sound. Consequently she is also unable to bear her weight. The pain is throbbing and more concentrated on the right ankle. She also rates the pain while resting. The pain is also radiating up the right lower extremity.

Current Medications: The patient is not using any medication currently.

Allergies: There are no records of allergies to food, medication, or environment.

PMHx: The patient indicated that she took her full dose of COVID-19. All other immunizations and annual flu tests are up to date.

Soc Hx: The patient is currently a single parent with three children. She works in the hotel industry. She likes playing soccer, which she does mostly during weekends but also occasionally in the evenings. She denies the previous or current use of alcohol. She also denies smoking or use of other illegal drugs.

Fam Hx: The patient’s parents are still alive; the father is eighty years old, and the mother is seventy-seven years old. The father is living with diabetes and hypertension while the mother has been treated for depression before and is currently living with osteoporosis. She has one elder brother and a younger sister and both are fairly healthy with no major health concerns.


GENERAL: No fatigue, weakness, chills, fever, and weight loss.

  HEENT: The patient’s head is normal; No visual loss, blurred vision, or double vision. She also denies reduced hearing, sneezing, congestion, sore throat, or even runny nose.  

SKIN: No signs of rash, itching, or bruising.  

 CARDIOVASCULAR: No chest discomfort, chest pain, or pressure. Denies palpitations or edema.  

RESPIRATORY: The patient denies any shortness of breath, sputum, or cough.

GASTROINTESTINAL:  The patient denies anorexia, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain.

GENITOURINARY:  No burning or pain during urination. She denies pregnancy. NEUROLOGICAL: She denies headache, dizziness, paralysis, ataxia, or numbness.

MUSCULOSKELETAL: She reports bilateral ankle pain. The pain is more concentrated on the right ankle as compared to the left ankle. She also reports swelling in the right ankle and is unable to bear her weight.  

HEMATOLOGIC: No anemia or bleeding.  

LYMPHATICS:  No history of splenectomy; denies enlarged nodes.

PSYCHIATRIC: No history of headache or mental illness.

  ENDOCRINOLOGIC: No Polydipsia or polyuria.   

 ALLERGIES:  No known allergies, either to food, medication, or environment


Physical exam:

Vital signs: BP: 116/75, Temp: 97.0, RR: 18, HR: 76, Height: 6.2, Weight: 141 lbs

General: The patient is well-dressed and groomed. She is alert and oriented. She appears concerned regarding her ankle pain which started after hearing a pop sound when playing soccer during the weekend.

HEENT: The head is atraumatic and Normocephalic.  No ear pain or discharge. No loss of vision, no runny or stuffy nose. The patient’s neck is supple.

Skin:  The skin is warm and dry, with no wounds and no skin rashes. Bruising was seen in the right lateral ankle.

Chest: The heartbeat and heart rate are both regular, with no gallops, murmurs, or extra sounds. No cough or dyspnea. The patient’s lungs are clear.

The musculoskeletal system: The patient’s right ankle has bruises, and the fibula’s lower aspects are tender upon palpation. Less motion range was observed in the ankles. The swelling was also observed. Pain experienced on the leg when bearing weight. The left ankle had no bruising, swelling, or tenderness.

Diagnostic results: The Ottawa Ankle rule is to be used to help determine if the patient needs an X-ray to confirm or rule out a fracture (Morais et al.,2021). Ultrasound can be conducted to assess the structure of the soft tissues such as ligaments and tendons.

Differential Diagnoses

  1. An Ankle sprain: This is a condition which usually occurs when the ligaments supporting a person’s ankle are torn or stretched. In most cases, the foot can forcefully turn outward or inward. Ankle sprains are known to be common when individuals participate in activities such as soccer and go for a sudden directional change (Halabchi & Hassabi, 2020). The condition can have varied severity, usually from mild to severe. This condition may present with various symptoms, such as finding it difficult to walk, joint stiffness, soreness, bruising, swelling, and pain. The patient was playing soccer when she heard a pop sound, leading to pain and swelling in her right ankle. The patient showed several of these symptoms which makes an ankle sprain one of the diagnoses.
  2. Achilles tendonitis: This is a condition that may present with pain and discomfort due to tendon injuries like a tear or inflammation. The condition is sometimes known as Achilles tendinitis. In most cases, the illness may come due to a repetitive strain or overuse of the Achilles tendon, which then makes a patient to experience swelling and pain. It can also result due to weak or tight calf muscles which is known to lead to higher strain on the Achilles tendon. Other causes include a sudden increase in physical activity which can be characterized by an increased frequency, duration or intensity of the physical exercise or activity that a person engages in.  Some of the symptoms include pain in the back of a person’s leg, pain exacerbated with activity, a stiff Achilles tendon, and swelling (Touzell, 2020). In addition, a patient may experience a mild thickening of the tendon, tenderness and a significant reduced range or motion.  The patient heard a pop sound when playing soccer, which makes this condition suspect.
  3. Chronic Ankle Instability: This is a condition that may result from multiple cases of ankle sprains, which then makes the patient prone to injuries. This condition may present with various symptoms such as ankle instability, injuries, swelling, pain, and re-injuries for more than half a year (Herzog et al.,2019). The patient may also experience recurrent sprains, complications maintaining balance and feelings of giving away. The condition is also known to substantially impact a persons, stability, mobility and the overall quality of life. The patient reported some of these symptoms, which makes this condition to be a potential diagnosis.  However, the patient has no history of incomplete healed ligaments, which again makes this condition less likely.
  4. Ankle fracture:  This is a condition that entails cracking or breaking of one or more of the bones which make up the ankle joint. It can occur in either the talus, fibula or tibia. Ankle fracture may happen when a person experiences events such as an awkward landing or forceful impact. The condition can also be caused by osteoporosis which causes the bones to weaken, hence exposing the person to the condition. Sudden rolling or twisting of the ankle with force can also lead to this condition. Consequently, a person may put stress on the ankle, leading to the condition. Some of the symptoms include complications bearing weight, bruising, and swelling (Briet et al.,2019). Other symptoms may also include misalignment or deformity of the ankle and pain. The patient presented with some of these symptoms, making this a potential diagnosis.
  5. Muscle soreness: Muscle soreness can be experienced after an individual takes part in physical activity or exercise. The condition is sometimes known as a delayed onset of muscle soreness. The condition is in most cases experienced when an individual takes part in physical exercise or activity that entail the eccentric muscle contraction, or lengthening of the muscle under tension. In addition, it is known to typically begin twenty four hours to forty eight hours after an exercise can have its peak around seventy two hours. The patient may experience reduced flexibility and strength and pain or discomfort in the skeletal muscles (Heiss et al.,2019). Other symptoms may include muscle discomfort, tenderness and stiffness. An individual with the condition may also experience an exacerbation of the soreness when the affected muscles are stretched or moved. The patient experienced pain when playing soccer, which makes this a potential diagnosis.


Briet, J. P., Hietbrink, F., Smeeing, D. P., Dijkgraaf, M. G., Verleisdonk, E. J., & Houwert, R. M. (2019). Ankle fracture classification: an innovative system for describing ankle fractures. The Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery58(3), 492-496.

Halabchi, F., & Hassabi, M. (2020). Acute ankle sprain in athletes: Clinical aspects and algorithmic approach. World Journal of Orthopedics11(12), 534.

Heiss, R., Lutter, C., Freiwald, J., Hoppe, M. W., Grim, C., Poettgen, K., … & Hotfiel, T. (2019). Advances in delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS)–part II: treatment and prevention. Sportverletzung· Sportschaden33(01), 21-29. DOI: 10.1055/a-0810-3516

Herzog, M. M., Kerr, Z. Y., Marshall, S. W., & Wikstrom, E. A. (2019). Epidemiology of ankle sprains and chronic ankle instability. Journal of Athletic Training54(6), 603-610.

Morais, B., Branquinho, A., Barreira, M., Correia, J., Machado, M., Marques, N., … & Diogo, N. (2021). Validation of the Ottawa ankle rules: Strategies for increasing specificity. Injury52(4), 1017-1022.

Touzell, A. (2020). The Achilles tendon: Management of acute and chronic conditions. Australian Journal of General Practice49(11), 715–719. Doi: 10.3316/INFORMIT.553809190362672.