CLINICAL NEUROPSYCHOLOGY SERVICES (CNS)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do I need a referral to make an appointment?

A medical referral from your own doctor or other medical specialist is recommended. It is important to first discuss your circumstance with a medical professional who can then advise on whether a neuropsychological assessment would be appropriate for your particular case.

Medico-legal clients should consult with their legal team to determine the suitability of undertaking a neuropsychological assessment.

What does a neuropsychological assessment involve?

A neuropsychological assessment usually involves an initial interview, where your medical history and other background information is obtained.
Following this, you will be given a number of tests that examine various areas of thinking, such as memory and attention. In many ways, this will largely resemble an ‘IQ test’. Some tests are designed to to be challenging and very few people answer every item correctly. You will also be given several questionnaires to complete.

How long does a neuropsychological assessment go for?

The assessment length various according to the referral, but usually takes approximately 3-4 hours. You will be provided with several rest breaks.

What do I bring with me to a scheduled neuropsychological appointment?

Please bring the following items to the session:

  • Reading glasses (if applicable)
  • A medical referral (if one has not already been sent by the referrer on your behalf)
  • A list of all medications that you are currently taking
  • Any recent reports or test results you have from health professionals (for example, neurologists, psychiatrists etc)

Can a family member or friend accompany me to the appointment?

A family member or friend is welcomed to accompany you during the interview stage of the assessment so that they can provide further details and information about your condition.
However, the family member or friend will then need to leave the room during the subsequent testing stage of the assessment.

Are my results kept confidential?

As with all medical professional services, privacy and confidentiality is paramount. You will be given information about privacy when you book the appointment and Dr Stewart will be happy to discuss any concerns you have. Your neuropsychological assessment results will not be released without your consent unless we are required to by law or where there are concerns about a patient’s safety or the safety of others.

How long do I have to wait for the neuropsychological assessment report?

Reports are usually sent out within a week following the completion of the assessment. This will depend on whether all the necessary background and medical information pertaining to your case has been obtained.

Where do I go for the appointment?

Please note, Dr Stewart practices at St Vincent’s Clinic, Darlinghurst. She can see patients elsewhere on request, such as home visits, interstate or overseas locations.

Is the assessment covered by health insurance or other insurance company?

Only in limited instances are neuropsychological assessments covered by Medicare or private health funds. Please check with your private health fund to determine eligibility for reimbursement prior to making an appointment. Dr Stewart is a registered Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA) provider and DVA gold card members are eligible for cover.

In cases where the injury relates to an insurance claim, it is recommended that you contact the insurance company involved to determine whether the cost of the assessment will be covered by the company.

Can a neuropsychological assessment assist with a diagnosis?

A neuropsychological assessment can assist with the diagnoses of a number of brain conditions. Some conditions, especially during the early stages, are often difficult to detect using other methods, such as neuroimaging. By constructing a profile of the individual’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses, and with such things as their educational and medical background being known by the neuropsychologist, a neuropsychological assessment can identify (sometimes subtle) cognitive dysfunction that can assist with a particular diagnosis.

What is the difference between a Clinical Neuropsychologist and a Clinical Psychologist?

Clinical Neuropsychologists specialise in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of various neurological conditions and psychological disorders that impact on the brain. They have specialised training in the structure and funcion of the brain.
Clinical Psychologists specialise in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of psychological problems and mental disorders.

Why refer a patient to a neuropsychological service?

Referring a patient to a neuropsychological service has a number of advantages. Neuropsychological assessment can:

  • Determine the presence of a brain injury and the consequences of the injury on the individual’s life
  • Assist with the diagnoses of various neurological and neurodegenerative condition
  • Determine decision-making capacity, testamentary capacity, or need for guardianship
  • Identify cognitive strengths and weaknesses (e.g. for vocational or rehabilitation purposes)
  • Help monitor cognitive changes over time (e.g. following an accident or elected-neurosurgery)

What type of patients are eligible for neuropsychological assessment?

Neuropsychological assessment are helpful for patients with brain injury (or suspected brain injury) and cognitive concerns. This includes individuals with:

  • Neurodegenerative conditions (such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease)
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (such as following motor vehicle accidents, falls and assault)
  • Neurological conditions (such as Stroke, tumours, epilepsy and arteriovenous malformations)
  • Inflammatory diseases implicating the central nervous system (such as Multiple Sclerosis)
  • Psychiatric illnesses (such as schizophrenia, depression and anxiety)
  • Developmental disorders (such as ADHD and learning disorders)
  • Intellectual disabilities (such as Down syndrome)
  • Brain injury following hypoxia and long-term alcohol abuse

For Non-English speaking patients

Should a patient need the service of an interpreter, this can be arranged, but will cost an additional fee. For patient’s referred by lawyers, the interpreter should be arranged by them. Telephone-based interpreting services are not sufficient for the purpose of a neuropsychological assessment. The interpreter should be booked for a minimum of four hours to avoid the need to re-schedule and incur further fees. It is not practice to use family or friends in place of professional interpreters.

If you are not sure whether an interpreter is needed, please discuss with Dr Stewart’s practice manager (Karen). As a guide, a patient should be able to converse in English without difficulty, and do so regularly, e.g., for employment purposes.