Neuropsychological Assessments for Adults
Neuropsychology involves determining how well the brain is working when it is disrupted by a brain injury or psychological disorder. A neuropsychological assessment is a comprehensive test of a wide range of mental functions including behavior.
Why has a neuropsychological assessment been requested?
A neuropsychological assessment can be requested for a number of reasons including:
To help with diagnosis: Test results are sometimes used to help understand the cause of problems with your thinking and understanding. For example, test results might be used to determine if your cognitive (mental) changes are due to normal aging, a neurological illness, depression, anxiety or other causes. Your healthcare provider can then use the results of your neuropsychological examination along with the results of other tests, such as brain scans, EEGs, and blood tests, to arrive at a diagnosis that will help to guide your healthcare.
To determine cognitive strengths and weaknesses: In some cases, a healthcare provider may order tests if you’ve had a known neurological event or injury, such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury, to find which cognitive functions have changed and how much they have changed.
To establish a baseline: In some instances, an exam is performed before and after a medical or surgical treatment to determine if cognitive abilities were affected by the intervention. Re-examination at some point after the baseline can also demonstrate how well you’re recovering from a stroke or traumatic brain injury and whether or not you’re ready to return to work, resume driving or take on other duties.
To help plan a treatment or other intervention: Test results can be used to identify which cognitive abilities should be the focus of rehabilitation if you’ve had a brain injury. Results also help therapists determine which strengths might be able to compensate for weaknesses. The evaluation can provide the basis for making decisions and/or adjustments to school or work schedules and determine the skills to work on that are most important to you.
How will I know if my cognitive abilities have changed if I have not had an exam in the past?
Some cognitive abilities tend to be very stable despite neurologic illnesses or injuries. Those abilities often provide an estimate of the level of your other cognitive abilities if no injury or illness had occurred. Your results will be compared to the pattern of results associated with various illnesses or injuries to help determine if changes have occurred.
What type of medical conditions might change cognitive functions?
Many neurologic conditions can result in changes in cognitive function. Some include:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Transient ischemic attack and stroke
- Traumatic brain injury
- Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders
- Multiple sclerosis
- Brain tumors
- Infections of the brain and spinal cord
Many non-neurologic conditions and their treatments can also effect cognitive function, particularly when they are advanced or severe. Some include diseases of the liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, digestive system, and endocrine systems, as well as some cancers.