More than Memory Testing
Neuropsychology, the intersection of neurology, psychology, and psychiatry, is an applied science that examines the effects of problems in the Central Nervous System on behavior. The number one patient behavior that often precipitates a neurocognitive evaluation is difﬁculty with memory, as memory disturbance is the single symptom that can be found among all the Major Neurocognitive Disorders. But Neuropsychological evaluation is much more than memory testing. A comprehensive assessment covers a range of cognitive domains, including intelligence, learning, memory, receptive and expressive language, visuospatial reasoning, motor functioning, executive functioning, and psychopathology. Thorough neuropsychological assessment can provide information that might be used to reﬁne a diagnosis, plan treatment, or establish a baseline against which improvement or worsening of symptoms can be compared.
The Role of a Neuropsychologist
The neuropsychologist has expertise in recognizing speciﬁc proﬁles of various neurodegenerative conditions. A wide variety of conditions can be differentially diagnosed. A neuropsychological evaluation can help in narrowing the differential diagnosis of cognitive dysfunction, choosing treatments, and evaluating the efﬁcacy of an intervention on an ongoing basis. Neuropsychologists utilize a variety of informational sources when completing patient work-ups. History, lab results, imaging results, clinical interview, collateral information and standardized neuropsychological assessments are all utilized when developing results. A written evaluation is then prepared for the referring provider, usually within a week of the evaluation.
Why and When to Refer?
Patients are referred for neuropsychological assessment for a variety of reasons including establishing diagnosis, planning rehabilitation, and determining competence. A referral for neuropsychological evaluation should be considered any time there is a question about a patient’s memory and cognitive functioning (see table below). Information from neuropsychological assessment can deﬁne the patient’s functional limitations or residual cognitive strengths. Simply put, the proper use of neuropsychological assessment can improve a patient’s quality of life.
Neuropsychological services at the 2 Peaks Center for Neuropsychology utilize a rehabilitation modality known as Cognitive Rehabilitation, which is a structured set of therapeutic activities designed to improve a patient’s ability to think, use judgment, make decisions, and increase working memory.
Complaints That May Indicate a Need for Testing
- Changes in Memory
- Concussion & TBI
- Poor Judgment and Impulsivity
- Impaired Executive Function
- Treatment for Many Conditions
- Poor Attention & Concentration
- Fluctuations in Mental Status
- Personality Changes
- Aphasia and Language Difﬁculties
- Changes in Emotional Functioning
- Losing Items Frequently
- Inability to Care for Finances
- Anxiety and Depression
- Difﬁculty Driving
- Unexplained Neurological Issues