Clinical neuropsychology is the study of brain-behavior relationships. Psychologists with specialized training in understanding patients with neurological, medical, developmental or psychiatric conditions help patients by formally assessing a patient's thinking skills, behavior and emotional functioning. For instance, patients who have sustained a traumatic brain injury may have difficulty remembering conversations or completing tasks. Understanding a patient's difficulties may help guide treatment.
A neuropsychological evaluation includes an interview and various paper and pencil tests, such as putting puzzles together or remembering things. Tests are used to assess a person's thinking skills or functional abilities. While many doctors take a picture of the brain with a CT or MRI scan or use an EEG to look at the electrical activity of the brain, neuropsychological tests look at the brain's abilities. A neuropsychological evaluation is recommended for any case in which brain-based impairment in cognitive functioning is suspected.
After an interview with the individual and/or family members, standardized tests and procedures are used to assess functioning in the following areas:
- Attention and concentration
- Learning and memory
- Problem-solving and other complex abilities
- Visual-spatial skills
- Perceptual and motor skills
- Academic skills
- Emotional or personality functioning
The results of a neuropsychological evaluation are used in some of the following ways:
- Confirming or clarifying a diagnosis
- Tracking progress in rehabilitation or changes in functioning over time
- Generating a profile of strengths and weaknesses to guide rehabilitation, educational, vocational or other services
- Providing treatment recommendations
- Identifying compensatory strategies
- Recommending referrals to other specialists, such as cognitive rehabilitation specialists, neurologists, psychiatrists, therapists or vocational counselors.
Evaluations may be specialized to address a specific referral question, including:
- Independent Neuropsychological Evaluations (also known as Independent Medical Examinations)
- Forensic Evaluations
- Workers Compensation Evaluations
- Return to Work Evaluations
- Return to School Evaluations
- Pre-surgical Epilepsy Evaluations
- Organ Transplant Evaluations
- Capacity Evaluations
For a referral, most patients are referred by their physician, although individuals can also be referred by other services or agencies, including vocational rehabilitation, case managers, legal counsel and more.
For more information or to make a referral, call 704-355-4300 or email for information or referral.