Neurocognitive And Neuropsychological Evaluations
A neuropsychological evaluation (known also as neurocognitive psychodiagnostic) is a comprehensive procedure through which a licensed psychologist who specializes in neuropsycholgy measures cognitive abilities secondary to neurological abnormalities (ex. stroke, down syndrome,...). These abilities are measured with specialty tests and provide information on the extent of cognitive impairments (ex. attention, concentration, verbal comprehension, abstract thinking, memory, problem solving) and how they impact the behavior. Neuropsychological tests inform the patient and the provider of any neurocognitive abnormality, enhancing and augmenting a brain scan (ex. MRI) while assessing the individual's executive functions (ex. spatial orientation, perceptual reasoning, consciousness of time, tasks sequencing).
There are many reason to request a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation, the most common ones include:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson's disease
- Brain Tumor
The objective of a neuropsychological assessment is to obtain a measure of the patient's cognitive abilities, and neurocognitive weaknesses (or deficits). When brain illnesses such as neurodegenerative disorders (ex. Multiple sclerosis), tumors, or changes in the brain's functioning secondary to other conditions (ex. radiotherapy) alter the physiology of the brain, behavioral and cognitive changes tend to impact significantly the person's life; a neuropsychological assessment can provide very important information by indicating what is the area of the brain that may be affected, and extent of its abnormality. With this information, an accurate diagnosis can assist the provider in generating an individualized treatment plan targeting the symptoms and the underlying problem.
Typically a person is referred for neuropsychological evaluation by the treating neurologist (or neurosurgeon), psychiatrist, primary care physician, or her mental health provider to help rule out and to differentiate between psychiatric and neurological problems.
Before the evaluation we:
- Review of the medical records, including school reports (as appropriate), previous psychological treatments and tests;
- Ask about the patient's developmental history before birth and after birth, along with social and family history, accompanied by an in-depth clinical interview with the patient and the family to evaluate the type of assessment needed;
- Ask the patient, the parents (as appropriate), and the school teacher (if the case) to fill out some forms about observed behavior and cognitive abilities.
- May contact the referring provider (ex. neurologist) to clarify reasons for referrals and how to test's results will help with the treatment;
During the evaluation we:
- Select, administer and score specialty tests aimed to measure specific domains (ex. behavior, memory, verbal comprehension); these tests can range from 1h up to 5h each, and maybe administered on more than one day;
After the tests/evaluation we:
- Prepare an interpretative report (test's results) and provide copies to the referring medical providers, along with recommendations and suggestions (if any) to help the patient at home and in social settings;
- Coordinate follow up meetings and the appropriate care with the referring provider;
- Review the results and recommendation with the patient and family members (as appropriate).