Babinski test

I have pondered on whether or not to mention this test, but it may be very helpful to some people on here. Apparently they say to physios and doctors that this should only be done if brain issues are suspected, so, I guess that that is all of us on here.

Google it… there is a more modern name, Plantar (whatever), but there are soooo many names using that, that I get confused… Babinski is far more memorable…!!!

It was conducted on me by a fantastic, and very experienced Nerve Conduction doctor. I had had 2 previous NC tests over 10 years or so, and as with this one, they all appeared ‘normal’. But this doctor was inquisitive… and did a Babinski test. It is sooo simple, you can even do it yourself, though it might be difficult keeping your foot in an appropriate orientation.

Running a pen/thumb/whatever along the sole of your foot from heel to toes near to the lateral (outside) edge and heading towards the big toe, will elicit a response. A normal response will be your toes bending downwards, towards the floor. If your big toe bends upwards, away from the floor, and your other toes bend downwards towards the floor, this is suggestive of brain trauma… NOT MS particularly, but brain issues in general.

Funnily enough, I can do it myself on my both my feet. What was my good leg, left leg, will elicit a strong Babinski sign, whereas my bad, right leg will produce the Babinski response, but it will not be as clear as my ‘good’ foot. It do wonder whether there IS also a concurrent Orthopaedic issue. I came to MS via Orthopaedics.

Since learning about this test, I have seen 2 examples, one in a movie and one in a documentary:

The movie is Fracture. This is on Amazon Prime, so if you have Prime, you can watch it for free. Very good film…!!! Antony Hopkins kills his wife and she is left on life support. Ryan Gosling, prosecuting, is hoping that she will regain consciousness and tell him what actually happened. The doctor performs a test, not saying what it is, but it is a Babinski test, saying that the wife has brain damage… no spoilers here…!!!

The documentary was on TV, and was about a family, I think in Turkey, where the 5 adult children were quadrupeds… they walked on all fours. They were unable to walk on 2 legs as we bipedals do. Anyway, a doctor, just in passing with no mention of the implications, performed a Babinski test, and, sure enough, the response indicates brain trauma…

I have found all of this sort of stuff sooo exciting, long before my MS dx… I hope you find it interesting.

Keep exercising your brain, hobbies are a great way, and, who knows, maybe those damaged brain cells will, perhaps not reactivate, but be replaced by new ones that are enthusiastically bursting to send messages…


Thank you Anne, I found that really interesting, my cognitive issues are quite severe…I take an Alzheimer’s medication. Although MS cognitive issues are not the same as Alzheimer’s the medication helps enormously, I’ve been taking it for over ten years now and recently had to stop it and the difference was amazing, I was like a Zombie, I was so pleased to get back to it!

I have seen the film you mentioned…typically I couldn’t remember but my husband assures me that we have ! I’m going to get my husband to do the test on me, I’m very interested to see what happens!

Thank you, take care, wishing you the very very best,

Nina x

PS, did the test…one foot didn’t work at all but I’ve broken the big toe twice and the other foot was normal!?

Perhaps your medication is influencing it…


Hiya, never knew the test had a name but this test was done on me, by one doctor using a coin and local GP using a pin, over 20 years ago, I just assumed this was normal, Brian

Babinski is an old name for it these days. My neuro said he prefers to call it Plantar ***** whatever… But there are far too many Plantar things, Babinski is much easier to remember…