Emergency Neurological Life Support: Acute Non-traumatic Weakness

Anna Finley Caulfield, Oliver Flower, Jose A. Pineda, Shahana Uddin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Acute non-traumatic weakness may be life-threatening if it involves the respiratory muscles and/or is associated with autonomic dysfunction. Most patients presenting with acute muscle weakness have a worsening neurological disorder that requires a rapid, systematic evaluation and detailed neurological exam to localize the disorder. Urgent laboratory tests and neuroimaging are needed to confirm the diagnosis. Because acute weakness is a common presenting sign of neurological emergencies, it was chosen as an Emergency Neurological Life Support protocol. Causes of acute non-traumatic weakness are discussed here by both presenting clinical signs and anatomical location. For each diagnosis, key features of the history, examination, investigations, and treatment are outlined in the included tables or in the “Appendix”.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-50
Number of pages22
JournalNeurocritical Care
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017


  • Acute weakness
  • Neuromuscular weakness
  • Respiratory failure


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