Neurological Physio Logo Information Guide and Resource Centre

Neurological Glossary

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Dynamic Ankle Foot Orthosis

Dawson�s fingers
Ovoid demyelinating lesions with their long axis perpendicular to the ventricular surface seen in multiple sclerosis

Death by neurological criteria
Irreversible loss of all brain function

Decerebrate rigidity
Stereotyped posture consisting of extension of all four limbs occurring with transaction between the superior collicui and inferior collicli in the midbrain; often used synonymously with extensor posturing

Decorticate rigidity
Stereotyped posture consisting of flexion of the forelimbs and extension of the hind limbs occurring with transaction between the diencephalon and midbrain; often used synonymously with flexor posturing

To cross

Deja vu
Feeling as if one has lived through or experienced this moment before; may occur in people without any medical problems or as a seizure aura

Delayed sleep phase syndrome
Circadian rhythm disorder in which in the daily sleep/wake cycle is delayed with respect to clock time such that sleep occurs well after the conventional bedtime; common in young adults

Abnormal mental state characterized by disorientation, inattention, confusion, fear, irritability, perceptual disturbance, and fluctuating level of consciousness; common with toxic and metabolic disorders and acute febrile systemic infections

Acquired and sustained loss of memory and other intellectual functions that is of sufficient severity to interfere with daily functioning

Dementia pugilistica
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy caused by cumulative and repetitive head trauma and manifesting as dementia and parkinsonism

Destruction or loss of the myelin sheath surrounding axons; results in impaired nerve impulse conduction

Receiving portion of the neuron

Distribution of sensory innervation on the skin of the body and the limbs

See: Insulin. A condition in which the body cannot use glucose (sugar), leading to an excessive and dangerous level of glucose in the blood. Can affect the eyes, heart, kidneys, nerves and feet, and is implicated in stroke risk, particularly when undiagnosed or poorly managed.

Diaphragma sellae
Thin dural membrane overlying the sella turcica that is fenestrated to allow passage of the infundibulum

The part of a long bone formed from the primary centre of ossification, i.e. the shaft.

Depression of metabolism at sites distant from, but connected with, a site of cerebral injury (e.g., infarction) due to interruption of afferent or efferent fibre pathways

Longitudinal division of the spinal cord by a septum of bone

Thalamus, hypothalamus, subthalamic nucleus, and pineal

Diffuse axonal injury
Widespread damage to white matter due to rotational shearing forces with head trauma

Diffuse Lewy body disease (Lewy body dementia)
Form of dementia associated with fluctuating alertness, recurrent visual hallucinations, and parkinsonism and defined pathologically by cortical (as well as nigral) Lewy bodies

Where both legs are affected but the arms are not [or only slightly so]

Double vision

A substantial and long-term physical or mental impairment that reduces functions such as mobility, dexterity, speech, hearing, seeing and memory, and adversely affects individual independence. The Disability Discrimination Act (2005) aims to increase opportunities for people with disabilities to take part in the everyday life of the community on an equal basis with others.

A joint shifted out of position

Dissociated sensory deficit
Impairment of pain/temperature sensation with preservation of vibration/proprioception or vice versa; implies lesion of brainstem or spinal cord involving one sensory tract but sparing the other

Further from the axial skeleton.

The inability to concentrate, i.e. a person who is easily distracted from the performance of a task

Doman Delacato Therapy
Form of therapy used in the treatment of brain injury, including cerebral palsy

Doppler scan
An ultrasound technique using soundwaves to obtain a graphic display of blood flow, direction and speed. Diagnostic tool often used to determine condition of the arteries in the neck.


Dorsal columns
Ascending axonal tract running in the dorsal funiculus of the spinal cord that carries tactile and proprioceptive information to the brain; fibres cross in the ventromedial medulla to become the medial lemniscus

Dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus
Parasympathetic nucleus that stimulates secretion from glands of the pharynx and thoracic and abdominal viscera

Dorsal rhizotomy
Surgical procedure involving sectioning of the dorsal spinal nerve roots performed to reduce spasticity

Dorsal root ganglion
Collection of cell bodies located in the intervertebral foramina that transduce sensory information into neural signals and transmit these signals to the CNS

Dose failure
Phenomenon in which an individual dose of medication has no effect; occurs in Parkinson disease possibly in association with a tablet getting stuck in the throat or delayed gastric emptying

Double Hemiplegia
Paresis involving the limbs on both sides of the body with the upper limbs more severely affected than the lower.

Double simultaneous stimulation (DSS)
Ability to detect two stimuli applied simultaneously to opposite sides of the body; for tactile DSS, if a patient is able to identify which side is being touched when each side is touched individually, but extinguishes or neglects one of the sides when both sides are touched simultaneously; indicates dysfunction of the contralateral posterior parietal lobe

Drop foot
A gait problem, which may result from neurological damage such as stroke, where the foot is difficult to lift and falls heavily to the ground

Drop metastases
Tumour masses in the lumbosacral spinal cord due to CSF spread of neoplastic cells (e.g., medulloblastoma)

Movement of one eye

Dura mater
Outermost layer of the meninges covering the brain and spinal cord; consists of a thick fibrous tissue that is adherent to the inner table of the skull and forms a protective sheath in the vertebral canal

Dural tail sign
Tail of dural enhancement seen on CT or MRI in association with meningeal neoplasms such as meningioma

Duret haemorrhages
Secondary haemorrhages occurring in the diencephalon, midbrain, and pons as downward movement of the brainstem relative to the immobile blood vessels on the surface of the brainstem results in injury to small penetrating blood vessels; sequelae of cerebral herniation

Imperfect production of the sounds used in speech

Impaired ability to perform rapid alternating movements (e.g., pronation/supination of hands); indicates cerebellar dysfunction

Pain or discomfort in response to a stimulus (e.g., touch) that would not be expected to cause pain

Distorted taste perception

Difficulty in writing due to a defect of brain function other than sensory defect (the alternative word �agraphia� is sometimes used)

Abnormality of movement/bizarre spontaneous movements

Difficulty in speaking due to a defect of brain function other than sensory defect (the alternative word �alalia� is sometimes used)

Difficulty in reading due to a defect of brain function other than sensory defect (the alternative word �alexia� is sometimes used)

Difficulty judging and controlling the speed, distance, or power of motor actions; tendency to over- or underestimate the extent of motion needed

Difficulty in swallowing

Difficulty in using language. It can either be a problem understanding language (receptive) or speaking it (expressive). People are often affected by both sorts.

Difficulty in voice production, either speaking loud (or soft) enough, due to a disorder with the muscles in the throat, mouth or tongue

Difficulty in controlling and co-ordinating movements or carrying out complex tasks when requested, caused by damage to the part of the brain responsible for voluntary movement and not by paralysis of the muscles or lack of comprehension. Can affect sequencing (ability to do things in logical order, to achieve a goal) and even speech.

Disorder in which the main complaint is about inadequate or unrefreshing sleep

Muscle tone fluctuates between stiffness and floppiness/slow twisting repetitive movements of arm, leg or trunk

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