Clinical neuropsychology is the study of brain behavior relationships. Suspected or known brain structural abnormalities secondary to neurological disease may alter a person’s physical, cognitive, and/or emotional status.
When Is A Neuropsychological Consult/Referral Appropriate?
Neuropsychological assessment involves the evaluation of various cognitive domains using standardized assessment procedures. Those domains include, but are not limited to the following:
- Learning & Memory
- Motor dexterity
- Visual spatial abilities
- Attention & concentration
- Language, Emotion & personality
- Executive functioning
Neuropsychological evaluation may be appropriate when observed or reported changes in cognitive or functional status are suspected.
Comprehensive neuropsychological assessment may also be warranted when changes in mood, behavior or personality have been documented which includes, but not limited to:
- Elderly Confusion
- Memory Problems in Adults
- Signs of Epilepsy
- Neurological Disease Symptoms
These evaluations may serve to guide treatment recommendations and further guide disposition planning. Neuropsychological assessment might also be appropriate for differential diagnosis of the following:
- Dementia (Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, or frontotemporal lobar degeneration)
- Cerebral vascular accident (CVA)
- Toxic encephalopathy owing to drugs or alcohol
- Psychiatric & neuropsychiatric disorders (e.g., Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia)
- Other neurodegenerative disease (e.g., Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Huntington’s disease)
- Demyelinating disorders (e.g., Multiple Sclerosis)
- Traumatic brain injury
- Metabolic dysfunction
- Epilepsy or seizure disorder
- Learning disorders or ADHD
What Does A Neuropsychological Exam Involve?
A neuropsychological exam (assessment) typically involves standardized pencil and paper-based tasks assessing the aforementioned cognitive and behavioral domains. Evaluations are completed at bedside or in an outpatient setting, according to patient needs. A review of the client’s relevant history, including family medical history, current treatments, neurodiagnostic imaging, and medications, are obtained. An interview with the patient and appropriate collateral informants (e.g., spouses, children, parents) is conducted to establish a thorough clinical picture of presenting problems and complaints.
Neuropsychological evaluations may be brief, but often involve several hours of evaluation to establish a comprehensive profile of cognitive strengths and weaknesses.