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Neuropsychological Evaluations

What is Clinical Neuropsychology?

Clinical neuropsychology is a specialty within clinical psychology that focuses on understanding the relationships between the brain and behavior. Understanding a person's strengths and weaknesses in thinking abilities such as memory and attention can help doctors understand how different parts of the brain are functioning. This can help diagnose the cause of any changes or problems with thinking abilities as well as make treatment recommendations.

What is a Clinical Neuropsychologist?

A clinical neuropsychologist is a doctoral level psychologist who provides assessment services to children and/or adults. Training in clinical neuropsychology comprises a broad background in clinical psychology, as well as specialized training and experience in clinical neuropsychology.

Training and preparation in clinical neuropsychology includes completion of a doctoral degree in psychology from an accredited university training program, internship in a clinically relevant area of psychology, two years of additional specialized training in clinical neuropsychology, and state or provincial licensure to practice psychology and/or clinical neuropsychology independently. The ABCN/ABPP Diploma in Clinical Neuropsychology (i.e., board certification) is one way to demonstrate evidence of competence as a clinical neuropsychologist.

What happens during a neuropsychological evaluation?

In the neuropsychological evaluation, your doctor will gather information about your symptoms, medical history, and psychosocial history. If you agree, family members or other people that know you well may be asked to share their perspective on important aspects of your history and symptoms. The examination also typically includes individualized 1-on-1 testing of a variety of thinking skills such as attention, executive functioning, memory, processing speed, motor ability, language, and visuospatial ability. This is often done using oral questions, paper and pencil, computers, the manipulation of materials such as blocks and puzzles. The neuropsychologist may also administer questionnaires to help understand your mood, emotional style, behavior, and personality. The amount of time that the evaluation takes varies and often ranges from 4-6 hours for adults and up to 12 hours for children. Testing often can be completed in 1 day, but may be split into 2 days for longer evaluations or if it is necessary to accommodate a patient's needs.

What will happen after the evaluation?

After the evaluation, the neuropsychologist will integrate all of the information from your evaluation into a comprehensive report. The report will provide a description of the strengths and weaknesses in your thinking abilities, what may be causing your symptoms, and recommendations that may include further evaluation and/or treatment. With your permission, the results are often helpful to the person that referred you, if any, as well as other professionals involved in your care.

What should I bring to the evaluation?

Please bring any medical records, if you have not asked that the doctor send them to us before hand (Dr. Rennie fax 414-963-6866, Dr. Chapin fax 414-921-4111). Bring reading glasses if you need them. You may take a break for lunch, and can bring food with you if you wish or go to one of the local restaurants. Please take your medication as prescribed, with the exception of any medication you may take to improve attentional symptoms (e.g., Ritalin). If you typically take a medication for attention, please speak to your neuropsychologist about whether or not you should take this on the day of testing.

What can I expect during testing?

Your neuropsychologist will ask you questions about your history and symptoms for about an hour. The remaining time will be spent doing individualized one-on-one testing with the examiner, typically the neuropsychologist, that resemble brain-teasers. For example, you may be asked to put some blocks together to make them look like a particular design, or repeat numbers after the examiner. This testing typically takes between 3 and 5 hours, although this can vary depending on the needs of the patient and purpose of the evaluation. You will be able to take breaks during testing including a short lunch break. Because the tests take several hours to score and interpret, you probably will not receive results of the testing on the same day. You and your neuropsychologist will talk about how you will get the results, which is usually either by setting up a time to come in for a feedback session, speaking over the phone, or meeting with the doctor who had referred you. We understand that it can be stressful to decide to participate in an evaluation, and we do our very best to make you as comfortable as possible!

Does insurance cover neuropsychological evaluations?

Most major insurance providers cover neuropsychological evaluations, but of course, all plans vary. Our office can check on your particular benefits before the appointment.

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