brain-300x300A neuropsychological evaluation can be a valuable first step to determine a proper diagnosis and help guide treatment planning. Neuropsychological evaluations provide comprehensive assessments of a person’s cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functioning, while taking into account different factors that could contribute to a person’s condition, including psychiatric, neurological, and medical conditions, effects of medications, psychosocial, cultural, and environmental factors. The right diagnosis that takes into account the whole picture then leads to comprehensive recommendations for treatment of the condition.

Neuropsychological evaluations typically assess the following areas of functioning:

  • General intellectual abilities
  • Academic achievement
  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Expressive and receptive language abilities
  • Motor and sensory functioning
  • Visuospatial/perceptual abilities
  • Executive functions (higher-order thinking abilities, i.e. problem-solving, abstract reasoning, etc.)
  • Personality and emotional functioning

Some common referrals for a neuropsychological or psychological evaluation include questions regarding:

  • Intellectual and academic functioning
  • Memory problems and questions of dementia
  • Measuring changes in thinking and behavior after a brain injury
  • Determining an accurate diagnosis due to changes in thinking and/or behavior (and recommending appropriate treatment)
  • Differentiating between psychiatric and neurologic conditions
  • Determining candidacy for surgical procedures
  • Assessing factors contributing to social or occupational problems
  • Determining disability status (i.e. Workers’ Compensation)
  • Assessing readiness to return to work after a brain injury or psychiatric event

Typically, an evaluation will involve: A comprehensive interview with the neuropsychologist to gather information pertaining to the questions at hand, review of relevant records (for example medical records or school reports), collateral interview, and neuropsychological testing. After the evaluation, the neuropsychologist writes a report that presents the results of the evaluation, a conceptualization of how the individual is functioning that addresses the referral question, and appropriate recommendations that will lead to the next steps of treatment planning. Feedback and education on the results of the evaluation are provided to patients whenever possible.