Monday, January 17, 2011

The Babinski Sign Explained

While I’m sitting on the exam table with my legs dangling, the neurologist reaches for a metal object.  He’s already poked me several times with the safety pin so I’m wondering what he plans to do with this larger pointy thing.  He grasps my foot and scraps the object on the bottom of my foot along the outermost side and under the toes.  My big toe jumps and the other toes look like they are trying to get away from the torture device.  I have just demonstrated a positive Babinski sign.

During a standard neurological exam, the doctor will test many reflexes, or involuntary responses to stimuli.  Much of that is done with a rubber mallet as the doctor taps various tendons and measures the response.  However not all reflex tests involve the rubber mallet.  One very important reflex test involves scraping the bottom of the foot.

“When the doctor scraps the bottom of my feet, what is he looking for?”

A normal response in anybody older than two years of age would be the big toe flexing downward (toward the sole of the foot) or nothing.  If your big toe jumps upward or extends (even if for a very brief second) and/or your toes fan out, this would be a “positive” extensor plantar response or the Babinski sign.

Read this post in its entirety:

MS Signs vs. Symptoms: What is the Babinski Sign?


  1. LOL For years after, I was singing, "Let's All do the Babinski!" Stopped working on me after I went SPMS.

  2. Before my MS diagnosis, the only time I had ever heard of the Babinski reflex was in monkeys and babies. My Babinski reflex is off the chart. There was no doubt in my neuro exam that this reflex was positive. I remember the ER doctor's expression when she tested be for this reflex, is it was a definite sign of MS.