Frequently Asked Questions
What is Neuropsychology?
Neuropsychology is the study of the relationship between the brain and behavior. A Neuropsychologist is a Psychologist with special training in the evaluation of people who have suffered an injury or illness to the brain.
What is a Neuropsychological Evaluation?
Neuropsychological evaluation often includes at least 3 components: Neuropsychological evaluation often includes at least 3 components:
- A review of your medical and other records
- An interview with you and, often, another person who knows you well (a family member, close friend, or caregiver)
- Administration of tests that measure your abilities and mood
Using these three sources of information, a Neuropsychologist will provide you with a comprehensive report that summarizes relevant medical history, your evaluation results, areas where your cognitive or emotional functioning has changed, and recommendations for work, home, and family.
Why Was I Referred for an Evaluation?
There are several reasons why people are referred for Neuropsychological Evaluation. You may have experienced an injury to the brain because of an accident or because of an illness. Your health care provider may be concerned about your memory or other thinking abilities and wishes to understand them better. Usually, your health care provider would like a better understanding of your thinking abilities, such as your memory, your language, your problem-solving ability, and your emotions. This will help your doctor to provide you with the best possible care for your condition.
How Long Does an Evaluation Take?
A complete evaluation generally takes between two and five hours to complete, but can take up to eight hours, depending on the complexity of the issues to be addressed by the evaluation and the your condition (for example, fatigue, confusion, and motor slowing can extend the time required for an evaluation). Occasionally, it is necessary to complete the evaluation over two or more sessions. In general, the doctor attempts to elicit your best possible performance under optimal conditions. During testing, you may become tired or need a break. Please be sure to let the person testing you know if you need some time to stretch, use the restroom, have a drink of water or snack, or just need a break.
Why Can’t I Just Have an X-ray or Imaging Study?
Although doctors can look at scans and images of the brain, pictures do not always show how the brain is working and how the brain has been injured. By doing Neuropsychological Testing, doctors are able to see how your brain is working. These tests will also help you and your doctors understand how your abilities and mood have changed. Once you have completed the evaluation process, your health care provider will be able to give you recommendations that will help you and your family to develop a plan for coping better with your situation or even getting better.
Who Will I Meet With During My Appointment?
Clinical Neuropsychological Evaluation is typically done by a Clinical Neuropsychologist, a Psychologist with specialized training in how the brain works. A Neuropsychologist uses mostly pencil and paper tests and questionnaires to better understand how the brain is working.
What Will I Be Asked To Do During the Evaluation?
Typically, a Neuropsychological Evaluation will begin with a general interview. A Neuropsychologist will interview you about any concerns you have with thinking abilities and memory. At this time, the Neuropsychologist often asks that you bring a friend or family member along. It is often helpful for the neuropsychologist to talk with your loved ones in order to understand your condition better. You will be asked questions about your history and background. Your answers will help the neuropsychologist know you better and get a good understanding of your symptoms. If a friend or family member comes with you, they will then be asked to leave while you participate in the testing process. Next, you will do written and oral tests. For some tests, you will be asked to write or draw something and for others you will need to listen and answer questions. The tests are much like school tasks. Also, you may take some of the tests on the computer. You may also complete measures that will help the neuropsychologist understand how your illness or injury has affected your mood, your personality, or your coping skills. You will be given instructions for every task and some are timed.
Do I Need to Study Before I Take These Tests?
No. There is nothing you need to study before your Neuropsychological Evaluation. The tests try to get a sense of what you are able to do now, so there is no need to learn any new material or practice any skills. You should not worry about whether they will “pass” the tests. The tests cannot be passed or failed; instead they describe how well a person is performing in many areas of thinking, memory and emotion.
How Can I Prepare For My Evaluation? What Should I Bring?
- Make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before.
- If you are taking sleep medicine, check with your doctor to see whether it might affect test performance the next day.
- Make sure you have plenty of time to get to your appointment. Give yourself plenty of time for travel, to find the location, and for parking.
- Make sure you eat something before you arrive so that you are comfortable until the lunch break.
- If you wear hearing aids or eyeglasses, bring them with you.
- If questionnaires were mailed to you, complete them and bring them with you to your appointment.
- Take your medications as you normally do, unless your doctor has told you otherwise.
- Bring a snack or your lunch, and a beverage.
- Bring your insurance cards and picture ID.
- Bring any medical records that are related to your current illness or injury.
- If you are in school, bring your current academic records.
- Bring your caregiver, close family member, or friend. They can often provide helpful information so we can better understand your situation.
- Patients are encouraged not to consume any alcohol 24 hours prior to the evaluation.
- Patients who live far away might consider spending the evening prior to the evaluation at a local hotel or with friends/family rather than getting up and traveling long distances to get to their appointment.
Will the Testing Make Me Uncomfortable or Frustrated?
Some of the tasks and questions may be easy and others may be hard. Be sure to try your best on all tests. The tests are designed to challenge you. Some people feel frustrated or upset if they don’t know all the answers, but other people say the testing process was interesting and even fun.
Will the Evaluation Cost Me Anything?
Payment for a Neuropsychological Evaluation depends on your situation. Here are some common scenarios:
- For some people, the evaluation is paid for by their health insurance carrier. You will be required to pay any applicable copay or deductible. Most insurance companies limit the number of hours for which they will pay for testing. Also, most insurance companies only allow one evaluation per calendar year.
- For other people, the fee for the evaluation may be paid for by another payer source such as Workers’ Compensation or Department of Rehabilitative Services.
- In some situations, your evaluation may be paid through your medical/legal personal injury case.
- You may also pay for an evaluation out-of-pocket if the testing is not a covered benefit with your insurance carrier, or if you do not have health insurance.
Who gets the results of my evaluation?
Your Neuropsychological Evaluation results are written into a confidential report. Typically, the only people who can read the report are you (the patient) and the provider who made the referral (i.e., physician, rehabilitation specialist, or lawyer). You may choose to give the results to other people, or you can ask for them to be released to other people by signing a Release of Information form. We encourage patients to get and keep a copy of their report for their personal records.
What will I learn from a neuropsychological evaluation?
A neuropsychological evaluation will help you:
- Get a better understanding of your brain’s strengths and weaknesses.
- To provide information for your doctor and care team that will guide your treatment plan and help them to better treat the problems you are experiencing.
- To provide recommendations for your day‐to‐day life that will help you and your family members with your recovery and that may help you succeed in school or work or to continue to live independently.
- To refer you to other professionals who can help you.
- To provide information if you are involved in a court case.
- To provide you with some ways to cope with impairments and improve relationships.
- To provide information, resources, or recommendations to your family as they help you with recovery.
- To help document your disability (e.g., Social Security claims).
- To help determine if counseling could help you.
- To obtain a baseline that if you do more testing in the future, your neuropsychologist can see how your abilities change over time.
Do I Have to Come Back to Get The Results?
Many people like to set up a feedback meeting after the evaluation is complete. Usually the session lasts about 60 minutes and is approximately a week after testing. During this time, your neuropsychologist will explain the evaluation results, go over recommendations for you and your family, and answer questions you might have.
Will You Tell Me What I Can and Can’t Do After the Evaluation?
Many people worry that their evaluation results will be used to make decisions about whether they can drive, go back to work, manage their own money, cook, stay home alone, etc. These decisions may ultimately be made by you, your physician, and your family. However, based on your strengths and weaknesses, a neuropsychologist will make recommendations that seem to fit your life at this time. These recommendations are focused on your safety and letting you be as independent as possible. Remember that neuropsychological testing is a “snapshot” of your abilities at one point in time. People who actively engage in physical and emotional therapies can show many improvements over time. Your recommendations may include setting up an appointment for reevaluation in the future. If you complete a reevaluation, your neuropsychologist will look at your abilities again and will likely make adjustments to your original recommendations. If you have questions or concerns about recommendations in your report, ask with the Neuropsychologist.