What is Neuropsychology?

Neuropsychology is a specialty within Clinical Psychology that studies the structure and function of the brain in relation to thinking skills, emotions, and behavior. It focuses on evaluating and treating cognitive abilities, emotions, and behaviors directly related to brain functioning. 

What is a Neuropsychologist?

A Neuropsychologist is a doctor of psychology who has formal training in brain-behavior relationships, specialized tests to assess cognitive abilities, and their relationship to neurological/medical diseases or injuries. A neuropsychologist helps medical doctors understand the effects of brain disorders or injuries on behavior, monitor the cognitive recovery or progression of brain disorders or injuries, and create rehabilitation and management strategies for patients with neurological disorders.

What is a neuropsychological examination?

A neuropsychological evaluation begins with a clinical interview, in which information is gathered regarding the presenting concerns and symptoms, as well as general information regarding background and history.  In addition, a specialized battery of tests is administered to assess different cognitive thinking skills such as attention, memory, visuospatial skills, receptive and expressive language, cognitive processing speed, fine motor skills, intellectual functioning, and executive functions such as problem solving.  Emotional functioning is also assessed during neuropsychological assessment. 

Neuropsychological testing consists of paper-and-pencil tests as well as computer tests of thinking skills and behaviors.  The tests are non-invasive. 

Results from a person's neuropsychological tests are compared to data for that individual's age group by the Neuropsychologist to determine whether their performance is normal or problematic relative to others in his/her age range and background. 

Why might I be referred for a neuropsychological examination?

Neuropsychological examinations are used for many medical reasons and are ordered by medical doctors or other agencies to evaluate the effects of a number of physical or neurological illnesses, diseases or injuries.  Common concerns that are evaluated at South Texas Neuropsychology include suspected changes in memory, thinking, emotionality or behavior that occur as a result of a neurological condition or brain injury. These can include difficulties such as a stroke, concussion, dementia, seizure disorder, tumor, multiple sclerosis, etc.  Neuropsychological assessment greatly enhances the ability of a medical doctor to diagnose and treat physical and neurological problems.

Neuropsychological examinations are part of the standard of care following trauma to the head as the result of a fall, motor vehicle collision, recreational activities, while participating in sports, and on-the-job. Additionally, neuropsychological evaluations are often instrumental in determining the nature, progress, and prognosis of various dementias (i.e. Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, Cerebrovascular Disease/Stroke, Lewy-Body dementia, senile dementia, etc.). This information is crucial to helping your physician determine the best treatment protocol for you.

A neuropsychological examination may also be used to diagnose learning limitations and attentional difficulties, and to help in determining medication use and effectiveness as well as academic and learning strategies.   

How long will my neuropsychological evaluation last?

Neuropsychological evaluations are considerably longer than typical medical appointments.  Depending on the nature of the referral question(s), the evaluations lasts 3-6 hours for most patients.  For longer evaluations, a lunch break will be provided mid-day.  Shorter breaks are taken at any other times throughout the day as needed. 

How will the test results be used?

Your test results will be shared with your referring physician and any other treatment providers you authorize us to release your report to. Typically, your physician will combine the recommendations that result from a neuropsychological exam with other information, such as neuroimaging studies, labwork, and a standard physical examination, to determine the most appropriate course of treatment for you. Test results may rule out suspected conditions or diseases, may confirm diagnoses of conditions or diseases, and indicate which types of treatment interventions may be most effective for you.

What should I bring with me to my initial consultation? 

You should be sure to bring:

    1. Insurance card
    2. Driver's License
    3. Medication list
    4. Your co-pay or co-insurance
    5. Reading glasses (if necessary)
    6. Hearing aids (if necessary) 

You may also consider bringing:

    1. A family member or acquaintance who can describe your functioning
    2. Names and addresses of doctors or other providers whom you would like to receive a copy of the report 

Please take your medications, as prescribed, on the date of your evaluation.  You do not need to fast or take any other special precautions prior to your appointment.   If possible, please try to arrive 10 minutes prior to your appointment to check in with the front office staff. 

Should a family member or friend be present during my evaluation?

While it is helpful to have a family member present for the clinical interview, a family member or friend cannot be present in the room with the patient and technician while the tests are being completed. 

We request that a family member or caregiver remain in the lobby for any patients that require assistance with self-care activities (in the event that such help is required at some point during the assessment).  We do not have nursing staff available for patients who require this level of assistance.

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