Neuropsychology Notes:

Many disorders affect thinking abilities or neurocognitive functioning. Some of the conditions that might affect memory, attention, or other thinking abilities are:

A Neuropsychological Evaluation is the process of trying to understand the building blocks of thinking abilities through the use of short, functional tests. The results of the evaluation provide a pattern of strengths and weaknesses that help us to understand the cause of changes in thinking abilities.

 

When should someone see a neuropsychologist?

There are a number of reasons why someone might see – or be referred to – a neuropsychologist. For example, he or she may be experiencing mild to severe changes or difficulties in thinking, memory, speech, personality, or other behaviors that interfere with their normal day-to-day routine. The kinds of changes or difficulties are often described as:

  • Forgetting conversations or losing articles around the house
  • Difficulty focusing on a task or being easily distracted
  • Changes in ability to make sense of maps or drawings or making sense of what you see
  • Not being able to read as well as in the past or not being able to read what you have written
  • Thinking thoughts that are not logical, forgetting or not recognizing where you are, or not remembering what day or time it is
  • Having trouble coming up with the name of a common object, using the wrong word, or decreased fluency when speaking
  • Saying things you would not normally say or noticeable changes in patience

Return to Top

 

 

When is an evaluation usually recommended?

A neuropsychological evaluation is recommended when a brain related illness or injury is suspected. For example, our practice often evaluates patients in order to rule out or diagnose:

  • Dementia (including Alzheimer’s Disease)
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Stroke or other neuro-vascular problems
  • Brain Tumors
  • Attention Deficit Disorders
  • Seizure Disorders
  • Central Nervous System Infections
  • Effects of toxic chemicals or chronic substance abuse
  • Neuropsychiatric disorders

The results of the evaluation can provide a pattern of strengths and weaknesses that help other medical professionals understand the cause of changes in thinking abilities, and the extent to which the changes are affecting the patient’s functioning.

Return to Top

 

 

What is the purpose of the evaluation?

Evaluations have a number of important functions. They can:

  • Establish a "baseline" or document skills before problems are readily apparent and assist with interpretation of possible changes that may show in future evaluations
  • Identify problems related to medical conditions that can affect memory and thinking, such as diabetes, metabolic or infectious diseases, or autoimmune disorders
  • Help differentiate among illnesses that have similar clinical presentations, e.g., Alzheimer’s, depression or stroke
  • Help plan treatments that use strengths to compensate for weaknesses

Evaluations are designed to measure pattern of strengths and weaknesses in cognitive processing. Measures include Attention, Concentration, Learning, Memory, Problem Solving, and Reasoning.
Other useful applications include: treatment planning for cognitive rehabilitation; evaluation of learning and academic abilities; forensic procedures; and evaluation of vocational abilities.

Return to Top

 

 

What happens at an evaluation?

We offer comprehensive neuropsychological test batteries to assess, aid in diagnosis, and guide in the treatment of each individual patient. The evaluation involves a number of different tasks, most of which are done sitting at a table. The evaluation is a way at looking at a number of abilities: problem solving, attention, memory, language and motor skills. Evaluations typically extend over a 4-8 hour period, including an interview. Testing is broken up into several shorter tasks so there is plenty of time to stop or take a break. The amount of time required for each test ranges from a couple of minutes to about 15 minutes. Areas evaluated include:

  • Attention
  • Executive Function
  • Language
  • Sensorimotor Functioning
  • Visuospatial
  • Learning and Memory Functioning
  • Personality or Social-Emotional Functioning

There are no right or wrong answers for any of the test items. What’s important is that you do you best.

It is important to understand that a neuropsychological evaluation is not a “fixed” series of tests that anyone can give. Specialized training allows a clinical neuropsychologist to select, administer, and interpret the tests and procedures that will provide the most comprehensive understanding of an individual’s strengths and weaknesses. Each evaluation is specific to the needs and clinical history of the patient.

The comprehensive Neuropsychological Evaluation also requires the neuropsychologist to review medical records, score the tests, write a report of the evaluation, and to spend time with the patient providing information and feedback from the evaluation.

Return to Top

 

 

What happens after the evaluation?

The results of the evaluation are used in conjunction with neurologic and other medical evaluations as part of clinical decision making. Your test scores will be compared to scores from large groups of healthy people who share similar key attributes so we can judge whether or not your scores are normal for your age and educational background, and to help determine your unique strengths and weaknesses.

Frequently the patient will return a few months later to receive additional help integrating and/or tracking progress or other changes; the pattern of your own test scores helps us estimate whether or not there have been changes in any of your cognitive abilities.

Return to Top

 

 

How will the test results be used?

The results will be shared with your referring physician in a summary report. Your results will help your doctors understand what problems you may have in everyday life. This will help guide planning for assistance or treatment.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment,
please call: 919-384-9682.

Return to Top