What Is A Neuropsychological Evaluation And How Can It Help?
A neuropsychological evaluation is typically referred when there are concerns of symptoms pertaining to changes or problems with one’s cognitive functioning or thinking skills, such as memory loss. Sometimes these symptoms are relevant to an underlying neurological process (structural changes to the brain) and sometimes they are the result of other problems unrelated to a neurological process (e.g., medical or metabolic issues, emotional/psychiatric conditions, etc.). In other instances, a referral for a neuropsychological exam may be made to assist in determining an individual’s level of functioning and treatment intervention following an acquired neurological condition (e.g., traumatic brain injury, stroke, etc.). And, sometimes a referral for a neuropsychological exam is made to establish a baseline of one’s cognitive status due to an existing or ongoing neurological condition (e.g., mild cognitive impairment, various neurological conditions) so that symptoms can be monitored over time for any changes (improvement or decline). A neuropsychological evaluation is comprised of a series of standardized paper-pencil tests that are designed to assess one’s cognitive or thinking skills (e.g., memory, attention, language, problem solving, motor skills, etc.). Emotional and behavioral symptoms are also assessed and interpreted within the context of one’s cognitive status. For those with an acquired neurological condition (e.g., traumatic brain injury, stroke, etc.), a neuropsychological evaluation provides valuable information for determining the appropriate course of treatment for cognitive, emotional and functional deficits throughout the recovery process, and beyond. Addressing issues related to independence is often a primary area of focus following an acquired neurological condition, such as returning to independent living, work, school, driving, etc. For individuals experiencing changes or problems related to their thinking skills, such as memory loss or difficulty with word finding, a neuropsychological evaluation will assist in the diagnostic workup by identifying patterns and level of performance pertaining to brain functioning. Test findings will shed light on the potential cause(s) of the symptoms and assist in determining the appropriate course of treatment and/or management of symptoms if warranted. Results will also provide a level of baseline functioning so that an individual’s cognitive status can be monitored over time to objectively assess for any changes (improvement or decline) that would help with diagnosis and treatment planning.
What To Expect On The Day Of Your Exam
After completing necessary paperwork (which can be downloaded on our website and completed in advance), you will meet with the doctor to discuss your presenting symptoms and relevant history. You are welcome to bring someone to the interview who can provide information concerning your history and current symptoms. Afterwards, you will work one-on-one with the examiner to complete a series of paper-and-pencil tests. Tests are typically brief in nature, but there are many. Some of the tests are completed verbally, some are in written format, and some are manually completed, such as motor tests. Some tests are in questionnaire format, so don’t forget to bring your reading glasses if needed. Tests vary in complexity and time, and you will do better on some tests than others. The tests are typically adjusted for age and educational level so that an accurate assessment of your performance can be determined. You should plan to dress comfortably and bring snacks/drinks if you wish. The testing is completed at your pace and breaks can be taken as needed. In addition to the initial interview, the exam typically takes up to 6 hours to complete if done the same day. Sometimes the exam is done over multiple days as arranged at the time your appointment is scheduled, although modifications during the exam may be made as needed. Because of the length of the exam, testing typically starts early. Since our time is devoted to working with you for several hours, we ask that you contact us as soon as possible if you are not able to keep your appointment.
Follow-Up / Feedback
After the clinical exam is completed, you will be scheduled for a feedback appointment. During feedback, you will review test results with the doctor. You are welcome to bring others to this appointment. The feedback session should provide you with a better understanding as to the nature of your symptoms as they pertain to your neuropsychological functioning. How to manage, modify and/or improve your neuropsychological status and optimize independence and quality of life are discussed within the context of treatment-related issues and recommendations. Upon completion of the exam, a formal neuropsychological report will be sent to your referring doctor; this will include our test findings and treatment recommendations.