Neuropsychological Exam

Anchor Counseling Center offers neuropsychological evaluations for adults aged 18 and older.   This type of exam is appropriate for any number of medical conditions or behavioral changes/concerns.  These can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Head injury (mild to severe, including concussion)
  • Suspected ADHD or Learning Disorder
  • Stroke or mini-stroke or TIA
  • Changes in memory, attention, or any other aspect of cognition
  • Changes in behavior or mood that are unexplained (e.g., lapses in judgment, change in speech/language, new onset depression)
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Suspected or known dementia
  • Epilepsy/seizure disorder
  • Brain tumor
  • Chronic medical condition that compromises cognition
  • Cardiac arrest, heart attack, heart disease, heart surgery
  • Diabetes

If you believe that a neuropsychological evaluation is appropriate for you, please feel free to contact our office to discuss your needs.  Our number is (401) 475-9979.

Many people have never heard of a neuropsychological evaluation, so here is a little more information about it:

What is a neuropsychological exam?

A neuropsychological examination is a behavioral evaluation, conducted by a neuropsychologist, which assesses how well the brain is working when it is required to do certain functions, like remember or pay attention.

What is a neuropsychologist?

A neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist with additional expertise in understanding brain-behavior relationships.  A neuropsychologist has a doctoral degree in psychology plus additional training in brain anatomy, brain function, brain injury and brain disease. In addition, the neuropsychologist has specialized training in the administration and interpretation of the behavioral tests that are part of a neuropsychological exam.

What will happen during the neuropsychological exam?

The neuropsychologist will interview you to obtain a history of the problem.  If you wish, your loved one can also provide information about the concerns.  You will also be asked about your medical, personal, educational/vocational, and family history.  When the interview is completed, your loved one must leave the room and you will spend the rest of the evaluation with the neuropsychologist.

The testing will include one-on-one interactions with the neuropsychologist.  You will be asked to remember things, look at things, solve problems, put things together, and answer questions that you may find challenging. The specific tests that are chosen will depend on the questions/concerns that you and your doctor or therapist have presented to the neuropsychologist.  There may be some tests on a computer.

You may take breaks during the exam, and if you are having a full day exam, there will be a lunch break. You may drink fluids and eat snacks during the exam.

Why can’t I just have a brain scan?

Brain imaging, such as CT and MRI, is a very helpful tool.  However, it evaluates the physical structure of the brain and cannot assess the function.  Many injuries and diseases do not show up on brain imaging and are only evident when performance is assessed through neuropsychological evaluation.  Alzheimer’s disease is a good example of this.  In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease brain scans are typically normal.  However, there are distinct patterns of change evident on standardized behavioral tests that allow us to identify Alzheimer’s disease as the most likely cause of the presenting symptoms.

What happens after the exam?

At the conclusion of the exam you will set an appointment to return so that you may discuss the findings from the evaluation.  We encourage you to bring your loved one with you for this appointment, as well.  This appointment runs from 30-90 minutes, depending on your needs.

Once you leave the assessment, the neuropsychologist has many additional hours of work ahead to understand your results. This includes scoring and interpreting the behavioral tests, integrating your psychological records/findings, examining and integrating your medical records, and writing up the report.

What should I bring to the exam?

If you have any medical records that are relevant to the issue, such as a brain MRI report, then you may bring it.  If you are coming for an evaluation for ADHD then your academic records would be helpful.  If you take medicine throughout the day then be sure to bring that with you.

You are encouraged to bring something to drink, like a bottle of water, because you will be doing quite a bit of talking.  You can also bring snacks and a lunch if you will be completing an all day exam.

How should I prepare for the exam?

This is not an exam for which you can study.  Try to get a good night’s sleep the night before the exam, be sure to eat a good breakfast, and follow your regular morning routine.  If you take medicine then be sure to take it as per your regular schedule.  However, if you take stimulant medication for ADHD you may be asked to not take it on the day of the evaluation.

Why am I tired after this exam? All I did was answer questions all day?

It is common to feel tired after this type of exam, as you have worked your brain very hard for many hours.  Just like physical exercise, brain exercise requires energy.  So, it can result in feeling some fatigue after a long day.

Where can I get more information about neuropsychological exams and neuropsychologists?

The National Academy of Neuropsychology has additional information about neuropsychology.  Their website is:
https://www.nanonline.org/Default.aspx

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