What are physical findings of normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH)?

Updated: Jun 04, 2018
  • Author: Stephen L Nelson, Jr, MD, PhD, FAACPDM, FAAN, FAAP; Chief Editor: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA  more...
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Answer

The following are physical findings found in NPH:

  • Muscle strength is usually normal. No sensory loss is noted.

  • Reflexes may be increased, and the Babinski response may be found in one or both feet. These findings should prompt search for vascular risk factors (causing associated brain microangiopathy or vascular Parkinsonism), which are common in NPH patients.

  • Difficulty in walking varies from mild imbalance to inability to walk or to stand. The classic gait impairment consists of short steps, wide base, externally rotated feet, and lack of festination (hastening of cadence with progressively shortening stride length, a hallmark of the gait impairment of Parkinson disease). These abnormalities may progress to the point of apraxia. Patients may not know how to take steps despite preservation of other learned motor tasks.

  • Frontal release signs such as sucking and grasping reflexes appear in late stages.


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