What Is A Neuropsychological Evaluation And How Can It Help?
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 to assist in differential diagnostic issues (e.g., neurological versus psychological condition). The evaluation is typically received from your treating doctor (e.g., primary care physician, neurologist, psychiatrist, etc.) when there are concerns for changes or problems in cognitive functioning. Cognitive symptoms may be related to the onset of new symptoms (e.g., memory loss, word finding problems, inattention, etc.), or an acquired/existing neurological condition (e.g., traumatic brain injury, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, dementia, Multiple Sclerosis, etc.). Because cognitive symptoms can be secondary to many different conditions (neurological, medical/metabolic, psychiatric, normal age-related changes, etc.), a neuropsychological evaluation can assist in determining whether they can be related to an underlying neurological process or structural changes in the brain. Thus, test findings will shed light on the potential cause(s) of the symptoms, assist the treating doctor with diagnostic workup, provide valuable information for determining the appropriate course of treatment, and determine functional issues when warranted (e.g., driving, return to work/school, independence at home, etc.). Results will also provide a level of baseline functioning so that an individual’s cognitive status can be monitored over time if needed in order to objectively assess for changes.
What To Expect On The Day Of Your Exam
After completing the 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. Afterward, 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 a 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 (see our cancellation policy).
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.