Patient Education

How to Prepare for a Neuropsychological Evaluation

  • Initial Intake Packets and/or Questionnaires must be completed beforehand and brought to your appointment. If you do not have access to a computer/printer, please arrive ½ hour before your scheduled assessment.
  • Bring any supporting documentation- medical records, police records, accident report, etc.
  • Have a family member or friend complete the Informant Questionnaires beforehand and bring to your appointment. You may also plan on bringing an adult family member or friend who knows you well so he or she can provide additional information about your daily functioning.
  • Please eat before the appointment, as the evaluation lasts several hours. In addition, it is advised that you bring light snacks. There will be an hour break offered for lunch.
  • Please take your regularly prescribed medications, as scheduled. Avoid optional medications that cause drowsiness, such as pain killers, and anti-anxiety and allergy medications.
  • Bring a current list of your medications and their dosages.
  • Bring your reading glasses or hearing aids.
  • Bring a valid photo ID and health insurance card.
  • Allow extra time for parking and the check-in process. Your evaluation will start promptly at the scheduled time. Late arrival may result in rescheduling.

What happens during a Neuropsychological Evaluation?

The evaluation involves clinical interviews with the patient and a family member (when possible) to understand the patient's history and to understand how cognitive and emotional changes have affected his or her life. The interview takes approximately an hour. The patient then completes neuropsychological testing. This is a non-invasive process involving primarily pencil-and-paper tests that are completed while seated at a table. The testing is performed by a neuropsychologist and a specialty trained psychometrician. The total time of the evaluation depends on the referral question; the testing is usually completed in one visit and the time for the evaluation usually ranges from 4-7 hours.

What happens after a Neuropsychological Evaluation?

The Neuropsychologist interprets each patient's test scores based on the patient's unique history (educational, medical, and personal) and provides the findings to the referring professional. A follow-up appointment may be scheduled with the Neuropsychologist to review the findings, impressions, and specific recommendations with the patient. This appointment may take approximately one hour. A detailed report is provided to the referring professional for integration with other medical and laboratory findings and assists with diagnostic clarification and treatment planning.

What is the Purpose of a Neuropsychological Evaluation?

The major purposes of a neuropsychological assessment are to assist with questions about:

Integrity of cognitive functions. The evaluation is helpful to determine the presence, nature, and severity of cognitive dysfunction. We provide a baseline to monitor future changes in cognitive abilities, mood and personality, including treatment effects.

Differential diagnosis – to confirm or clarify a diagnosis Regarding differential diagnosis, we help to discriminate between neurological and psychiatric disorders. One unique contribution of the neuropsychological assessment is the detection and evaluation of cerebral dysfunction in the absence of clear anatomical evidence of alterations. We also identify psychological factors such as depression that contribute to cognitive dysfunction.

Treatment planning. We provide treatment recommendations for cognitive disorders and psychological adjustment, including a profile of strengths and weaknesses to guide rehabilitation, educational, vocational, or other services. We also determine cognitive capacity for work, school, and independent living.

Capacity. The evaluation can serve to assess capacity and readiness to return to work or other important life activities, such as financial management and driving, after a brain injury or neurologic illness. Such evaluations address whether a person is able, from a mental ability perspective, to make a successful return to major life roles. We address strengths and weaknesses with regard to performing such roles, and the adjustments and adaptations that may be necessary to optimize the chance of a successful return.

Who Should Undergo a Neuropsychological Evaluation?

Neuropsychological services can be useful for many individuals with known or suspected brain dysfunction. Many conditions can affect brain functioning, including general medical conditions, neurological disease, and neuropsychiatric disease. Disorders may be developmental/genetic, acquired (e.g., concussions, traumatic brain injury), or of unknown etiology.

We routinely provide neuropsychological evaluation for individuals with:

    • Acquired brain injury (concussion and traumatic brain injury)
    • Cerebrovascular disease and stroke
    • Epilepsy and seizure disorder
    • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
    • Autism/Asperger's
    • Dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment
    • Movement disorders (e.g., Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease)
    • Systemic diseases affecting the brain or central nervous system (e.g., systemic lupus erythematosus, demyelinating disease such as multiple sclerosis)
    • Genetic diseases affecting the central nervous system
    • Mood disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder)
    • Thought disorders (e.g., schizophrenia)
    • Brain tumors

    Areas of Expertise . In addition to providing neuropsychological evaluations to adults, adolescents, and children with a wide range of problems and diseases, ICN neuropsychologists specialize in assessment of the following groups of patients:

    Traumatic Brain Injury/Concussion. Both mild and more severe traumatic brain injuries can affect mental abilities, behavior, and emotions. Depression is a common reaction to brain injury. We perform neuropsychological assessments to evaluate the effects of trauma to the brain. We document level of recovery to assist with treatment planning, and to determine readiness to return to work and other life activities. In addition to providing services to the community at large, we conduct neuropsychological evaluations for patients with sports-­‐related and work-­‐related concussions.

    Multiple Sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis can affect cognition, behavior, and mood. Neuropsychological assessment is provided to help identify and characterize an individual's cognitive strengths and weaknesses. The evaluation contributes to treatment planning, and patient and family goal setting. Repeated assessments can be done to evaluate changes in mental functioning over time. Patients who have suffered a stroke or cerebrovascular event undergo neuropsychological evaluations to establish a level of overall function and to help guide recommendations for neurocognitive rehabilitation, vocational adjustments, short or long term disability, and social-­‐emotional support as needed. 2 ICN Institute for Clinical Neurosciences, PLLC Institute for Clinical Neurosciences, PLLC

    Memory Disorders. Neuropsychological evaluation can help to differentiate between normal aging, Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), and dementia. Results from the evaluation can be helpful in understanding the causes of memory and related functional decline. The neuropsychologists are part of the Stanford Center for Memory Disorders faculty and work closely with the neurologists to assist with diagnostic clarification and treatment planning.

    Epilepsy. Correct identification and removal of the seizure focus is critical to the success of epilepsy surgery for patients with medically intractable epilepsy. The neuropsychological evaluation is used to provide independent measures of brain function to determine concordance with other pre-­‐surgical neurodiagnostic findings (EEG, MRI, MEG, and PET) for isolating the seizure focus. The neuropsychological evaluation is also used to determine level of performance for issues surrounding post-­‐operative outcome, emotional adjustment, and return to work and school.

Neuropsychology Links and Resources