About Neuropsychological Impairment & Assessment
Neuropsychological assessments are recommended when brain-based impairment in cognitive function or behavior is suspected. These assessments are important in determining and outlining both subtle and more severe cognitive and neurobehavioral deficits among people with a variety of neurological disorders, including cerebrovascular conditions, traumatic brain injury, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, hydrocephalus, neurotoxic exposure, and brain tumors.
Neuropsychological assessment also provides critical information for diagnosing and differentiating conditions such as dementia, or when considering certain types of neurological procedures like deep brain stimulation surgery (a procedure that involves implanting electrodes into specific areas of the brain) for Parkinson’s disease.
Examples of conditions for which a neuropsychological assessment is often recommended include:
- Traumatic and acquired brain injury
- Pre-dementia or dementia conditions (e.g., mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal dementia)
- Stroke/cerebrovascular accidents
- Other neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease
- Developmental learning disabilities
- Attention deficit disorders
- Psychiatric or neuropsychiatric disorders
- Seizure disorders
- Medical illness or treatments
- Chronic substance abuse or the effects of toxic chemicals
A neuropsychological assessment is particularly useful for tracking rehabilitation progress after a brain injury or other neurological disease. The neuropsychologist provides valuable information for primary care doctors, neurologists, psychiatrists, rehabilitation teams, and other providers who are giving you or your loved one care.
These neuropsychologists administer neuropsychological assessments. They are doctoral-level, licensed psychologists with specialized training and knowledge in differential diagnosis of neurological, neurodevelopmental, neurodegenerative, and acquired disorders of brain function.
A clinical neuropsychologist uses his or her specialized knowledge of brain functioning, along with the understanding of neurology and neuroanatomy, to investigate a patient’s strengths and weaknesses and make accurate diagnoses. He or she also assists in medical, psychiatric, and behavioral intervention planning.
This type of neuropsychologist uses specialized knowledge of normal and abnormal child developmental, medical, psychiatric, and neurological conditions to provide accurate diagnosis and intervention planning. A comprehensive, pediatric neuropsychological evaluation can be an important tool for you and your child’s teacher, therapists, and medical care providers to use in determining treatments and interventions that will meet your child’s unique needs.
What to Expect
A typical neuropsychological evaluation involves taking an extensive history (including a review of relevant medical, academic, and/or work records), and a comprehensive evaluation of cognitive abilities using objective measures of brain functioning.
Assessments usually involve paper and pencil tests, computerized tests, and answering questions verbally. Parents may be asked to fill out questionnaires about their child’s development and behavior. Many neuropsychologists use trained technicians, called psychometrists, to assist with testing. The time needed to complete an assessment will depend on the reason for referral and the age of the patient.
Clinical neuropsychologists assess a variety of cognitive areas, including:
- General intelligence
- Academic achievement
- Attention and concentration
- Executive function (such as reasoning, problem solving, organization, planning, inhibition, and flexibility)
- Learning and memory
- Visuospatial and constructional skills
- Sensory and motor functions
- Emotional, behavioral, and personality functioning
If you suspect that you, your child, or a loved one is experiencing a cognitive or neurobehavioral impairment, ThedaCare can help you get an accurate diagnosis and treatment. Talk with your primary care doctor or family practice doctor about a referral to a specialist.
You can view a list of behavioral health specialists before the appointment, and see which ThedaCare Physicians locations offer services in your area.