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Mental Status Exam

Assessing Language - Speech

November 7th, 2019


Written comprehension - show a written instruction, e.g.
Simple verbal comprehension - name objects such as pen, watch and key, and ask the patient to point to them.
Complex verbal comprehension - ask the patient to take a piece of paper into their right hand, fold it in half and then place the paper onto the floor.
Conceptual comprehension (understanding) - show the patient the same pen, watch and key as above and ask them to point to the object that shows the passage of time.

Word Repetition

  • How to Assess

    Ask the patient to repeat back words or sentences of increasing complexity.
  • Orange
  • Watch
  • Hippopotamus
  • Aubergine
  • Emerald
  • Perimeter
  • No ifs, ands or buts
  • British Constitution
  • The orchestra played and the audience applauded
  • Significance

  • Patients may not be able to repeat the terms back due to dysarthria, dysphasia, confusion or poor compliance.

Object Naming

Items around the room - point to objects and ask the patient to name them. Avoid frequently named items such as pen and watch - ask them to name objects such as cufflink or stethoscope.
Pictures of items - show drawings of objects and ask the patient to name them.
The Boston Naming Test (BNT) is an example of a tool used to assess word retrieval in brain damaged patients.
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