Clinical Neuropsychology is a field of psychology that specialises in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients with conditions that affect the brain. Through the use of detailed interviewing (examining such things as developmental, educational and medical background) and standardised testing, clinical neuropsychologists are able to compile a profile of an individual’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses and determine the presence of atypical cognitive functioning.
Neuropsychological assessment involves examining a number of cognitive skills, including:
- Memory and Learning
- Attention and Concentration
- Spatial Ability
- Arithmetic Skills
- Mental Speed
- Problem-solving and Reasoning
Who would benefit from a 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’s syndrome)
- Brain injury following hypoxia and long-term alcohol abuse
Why see a Neuropsychologist?
Neuropsychological assessment can help clarify a diagnosis of a number of organic brain injuries that are difficult (or not possible) to diagnose using current neuroimaging procedures. Neuropsychological assessment is known to be a sensitive tool in the early detection of several neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and also has an important role in assisting with differential diagnosis of cognitive impairment due to an acquired brain injury (for example, stroke or a motor-vehicle accident) versus cognitive impairment due to a mental health condition (for example, depression or anxiety).
In the medico-legal setting, neuropsychological assessment has an important role in determining the presence and severity of an acquired brain injury in the context of insurance or compensation claims. In addition, neuropsychological assessment has utility in the evaluation of capacity and the need of Guardianship.