What is neuropsychological testing and evaluations and what is it used for?
Clinicians often use their expertise and their clinical judgment in order to diagnose a variety of disorders including ADHD, Autism Spectrum, emotional disorders, personality disorders and much more. However, research has proved that a statistical measurement is far more accurate, valid and reliable than expertise and clinical judgment alone. Neuropsychological testing is conducted to provide actuarial information regarding the diagnostic and referral question at hand.
The underlying cause of a person’s problems isn’t always clear. Neuropsychological assessments are tools used to measure and observe a client’s behavior, symptomology, and to assess a person’s cognitive functioning in order to arrive at a diagnosis and to guide with an individualized treatment plan. More specifically, neuropsychological testing is a method that is used to examine the cognitive sequences of brain damage, brain disease, and severe mental illness.
Who is appropriate for referral?
Suspicion of cognitive dysfunction or a decline in emotional, social or cognitive functioning typically prompts most referrals to a neuropsychological assessment.
What purpose might a Neuropsychological Assessment Serve?
The results and diagnosis can help determine whether or not cognitive impairment is present, and make a distinction between normal aging and benign cognitive change from pathological processes. Based on the data gathered from the evaluation, recommendations can be detailed to guide treatment and management of decisions and to enhance the cognitive functioning. An individual’s cognitive profile may be used to determine whether they meet criteria for a dementia syndrome at the earliest possible stage, or mild cognitive impairment. Neuropsychological assessment may also contribute to differential diagnosis, for example, distinguishing dementia from depression or other psychiatric causes of cognitive impairment.
What is Decision-Making Capacity?
Assessing for “decision-making capacity,” involves determining whether or not a patient is psychologically or legally capable of adequate decision-making. Illness or medications may impair the ability of patients to make decisions about their health – they may be unable to make decisions at all or may make choices that are not in their best interests and may result in serious harm.