Omni Calculator logo

NIH Stroke Scale Calculator

Created by Joanna Michałowska, PhD
Reviewed by Dominik Czernia, PhD and Jack Bowater
Last updated: May 24, 2024

The NIH stroke scale calculator (NIHSS calculator) helps to objectively assess the impairment caused by a stroke. It consists of 11 sections, where each item can be scored with three to five grades. The NIH stroke scale design is simple, and this tool is considered valid and reliable. It can be routinely administered at the bedside by physicians, nurses, and/or therapists.

You might also be interested in our other health tools. Check out the SOFA score calcuator, HEART score calculator, or Branden score calculator calculators.

We try our best to make our Omni Calculators as precise and reliable as possible. However, this tool can never replace professional medical advice.

What is a stroke?

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the US and is a significant cause of severe disability for adults. This condition is associated with poor blood flow in the brain, which causes cell death. A stroke can cause lasting brain damage, long-term disability, or death.

There are two types of stroke:

  • An ischemic stroke (more prevalent, 87% of cases) - occurs when blood vessels in the brain are blocked (e.g., by blood clots, plaque).
  • A hemorrhagic stroke - occurs when a blood vessel bursts in the brain and the blood build-up damages the surrounding brain tissue.

Risk factors of stroke include:

  • High blood pressure;
  • Obesity;
  • Unhealthy diet;
  • Diabetes;
  • Cigarette smoking;
  • Alcohol use;
  • Physical inactivity;
  • High cholesterol levels; and
  • End-stage kidney disease.

Many of these risk factors can be assessed and calcuated. Omni provides you with the right tools to do so: try our cholesterol ratio calculator, our diabetes risk calculator, or our alcohol unit calculator.

Signs of stroke:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face/arm/leg (especially on one side of the body);
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech;
  • Loss of balance/lack of coordination;
  • Severe headache with no known cause; and
  • Visual field defects.

If someone has those symptoms, act F.A.S.T.

If  you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T (F- Face; A - Arms; S - Speech; T - Time
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

NIH stroke scale score (NIHSS score)

The National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) is an assessment tool that objectively quantifies the impairment caused by a stroke by quantitatively measuring a stroke-related neurologic deficit. The NIHSS was initially designed as a research tool to measure patients' data in clinical trials, however, now we widely use the scale in the clinical setting.

Doctors use of NIH stroke scale score for the:

  • Evaluation of acuity of stroke patients;
  • Determination of appropriate treatment;
  • Prediction of patient outcome;
  • Evaluation and documentation of neurological status;
  • Prediction of lesion size;
  • Measurement of stroke severity;
  • Prediction of both short and long term outcomes;
  • Data collection tool for planning patient care; and
  • Provision of a common language for information exchanges among healthcare providers.

NIH stroke scale calculator

The NIH stroke scale calculator consists of 15 items, which evaluate the effect of acute cerebral infarction on the levels of consciousness, language, neglect, visual-field loss, extraocular movement, motor strength, ataxia, dysarthria, and sensory impairment.

Each item contains three to five grades and can score from 00 to 44 points, where a score of 00 typically indicates normal function, while a higher score indicates some level of impairment. The assessment usually requires less than 10 minutes to complete.

How to use the NIH stroke scale calculator? It is straightforward as you only need to go through all the fields from the top to the bottom. As a result you'll obtain the NIHSS score together with an interpretation in the table at the very end.

Check the English version of NIH stroke scale (pdf format) for more details about NIHSS score. The website includes pictures, naming sheet and list of sentences that we use during the assessment.

NIH stroke scale score

To obtain the NIHSS score, we sum all individual scores. The maximum possible score is 42, and the minimum score equals 0.

The table below presents the interpretation of the results:


Stroke severity


No stroke symptoms

11 - 44

Minor stroke

55 - 1515

Moderate stroke

1616 - 2020

Moderate to severe stroke

2121 - 4242

Severe stroke

Joanna Michałowska, PhD
Level of Consciousness (LOC) questions:
1A. Responsiveness
1B. Ask month and age
1C. Command ℹ️
Face and vision:
2. Best gaze ℹ️
3. Visual fields ℹ️
4. Facial palsy ℹ️
5A. Motor arm - left ℹ️
5B. Motor arm - right ℹ️
6A. Motor leg - left ℹ️
6B. Motor Leg - right ℹ️
7. Limb ataxia ℹ️
Sensation and speech:
8. Sensation to pinprick
9. Language/aphasia ℹ️
10. Dysarthria
11. Extinction/inattention ℹ️
NIHSS score
ScoreStroke severity
0No stroke symptoms
1-4Minor stroke
5-15Moderate stroke
16-20Moderate to severe stroke
21-42Severe stroke
Check out 14 similar intensive & emergency care calculators 🚑
Alvarado scoreAPACHE IIGlasgow coma scale… 11 more
People also viewed…

BMI for teens

Use our BMI calculator for teens to assess body mass index and learn about healthy BMI ranges for ages 10-20.

BMR - Harris-Benedict equation

Harris-Benedict calculator uses one of the three most popular BMR formulas. Knowing your BMR (basal metabolic weight) may help you make important decisions about your diet and lifestyle.

Christmas tree

Welcome to the Christmas tree calculator, where you will find out how to decorate your Christmas tree in the best way. Take a look at the perfect Christmas tree formula prepared by math professors and improved by physicists. Plan in advance how many lights and decorations you'll need!

Luteal phase

The luteal phase calculator lets you know whether your luteal phase is a normal length.
Copyright by Omni Calculator sp. z o.o.
Privacy, Cookies & Terms of Service