Clinical problem solving involves the basic scientific process of gathering information, formation of hypotheses (differential diagnosis) and verification of these hypotheses (the diagnosis).
Clinical information consists of performing a history and physical examination. The history elicits symptoms from the patient, family, old charts or other collateral sources. The physical examination is a series of objective observations of different clinical tests performed on the patient. These findings are then combined with the information gathered in the history to synthesize a hypothesis with respect to a pathophysiological process.
In clinical neurosciences, the traditional method is to use the history and physical to perform the following:
An analysis of the location of the problem in the nervous system (Localization)
An analysis of the causative process (Etiological diagnosis)
Then investigations are performed to either prove of disprove the hypothesis.
Having established a diagnosis, a given treatment is administered which, if successful, will reverse or alleviate the pathophysiological processes causing the clinical symptoms and signs.