Cranial nerves are nerves that originate in the brain. Humans have 12 pairs of cranial nerves:
1). olfactory nerve
2). optic nerve
3). oculomotor nerve
4). trochlear nerve
5). trigeminal nerve
6). abducens nerve
7). facial nerve
8). vestibulocochlear nerve
9). glossopharyngeal nerve
10). vagus nerve
11). spinal accessory nerve
12). hypoglossal nerve

The functions of these nerves include carrying sensory information to the brain, controlling muscles, and regulating glands and internal organs. The first picture above depicts each cranial nerve's point of departure from the brain.

This particular Instructable focuses on cranial nerve 5, the trigeminal nerve. This nerve originates in the pons, a part of the brainstem, and has both sensory and motor functions. The trigeminal nerve controls muscles of mastication (biting and chewing) and carries sensory information about touch and pain from the face. The second picture above shows the three areas of the face that the trigeminal nerve innervates. This Instructable will demonstrate 3 useful exercises for checking a patient's trigeminal nerve function. By testing the sense of touch and the muscle contractions of the face, these exercises will demonstrate the trigeminal nerve's ability to carry sensory information from the face to the brain, and its ability to control the temporalis, masseter, and pterygoid muscles that manipulate the jaw.

1). basic understanding of anatomy
2). patient who is comfortable with his/her face being touched
3). Q-tip
4). scissors (for cutting the Q-tip in half)

Time: 10 minutes


Safety Concerns: The one performing the examination should be careful not to unnecessarily poke the patient with the Q-tip.

Lynch, Patrick J. "Brain human normal inferior view with labels en." Illustration. Wikipedia.com 04 May 2011. 03 April 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cranial_nerves.
"Facial areas innervated by the trigeminal nerve." Illustration. Spinesurgery-wecareindia.com. 03 April 2014. http://www.spinesurgery-wecareindia.com/condition/trigeminal_neuralgia.html.

Step 1: Preparation

1). Get a Q-tip and cut it in half. It does not matter how long the halves are. Discard one of the halves. The cut Q-tip should look like the small Q-tip in the picture above. It should have a soft end and a blunt end.

2). Have the patient sit so that, as you stand, your patient's face is approximately at your eye level. You will be standing during the physical examination.

3). Again, as listed in the requirements, make sure your patient is comfortable with his/her face being touched. If not, this examination should not be performed on him/her.

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