FAQ’s – Adult Services

FAQs for adults services:

My mother’s doctor thinks she may have dementia.  How would a neuropsychological exam help? 

Often times a diagnosis of dementia is a scary prospect, yet a neuropsychological evaluation would help differentiate reversible causes of dementia (hydrocephalus, depression) from irreversible ones (Alzheimer’s, Frontotemporal Dementia).  The evaluation would also lead to recommendations for interventions and/or accommodations that best fit the needs of the individual and his/her family.  Furthermore, the evaluation captures the individual’s level of functioning at that point in time, to be compared with past or future evaluations to monitor changes that can be useful in diagnosis and treatment.

I have been having dizziness, headache, memory problems, and difficulties concentrating since I hit my head on my steering wheel after being rear ended.  When I went to the emergency room and they took a scan of my head, it showed nothing was wrong.  What is going on?

It is possible you may have suffered a concussion.  Scans frequently do not show any visible abnormalities, leaving many people to feel they are “going crazy”.  A concussion can also lead to depression, anxiety, and irritability due to changes in the brain and limitations to adjust to these changes.  A neuropsychological evaluation can help determine if these difficulties may limit someone from performing at work and/or school as well as lead to recommendations to ameliorate these troublesome symptoms.  This may include weekly treatment with a neuropsychologist.

What happens in a neuropsychological evaluation?

A neuropsychological evaluation is a carefully planned examination of thinking, behavior, and social-emotional functioning. Using non-invasive standardized tests and procedures the neuropsychologist examines how well an individual can respond to questions, problem-solve, and perform paper-and-pencil tasks, hands-on activities, and, sometimes, computerized tasks. Neuropsychological evaluations typically include tests that measure: intellectual functioning (IQ), academic achievement, language; visual spatial, perceptual, and constructional skills; attention; executive functioning; learning and memory; sensory-perceptual skills; motor skills; and social-emotional and behavioral functioning. In addition to working directly with the patient and family, the neuropsychologist may with the patient’s consent consult with the physicians.

Do you provide treatment for these issues?

After the cause(s) of dysfunction is determined, neurobehavioral or psychological treatment with one of our doctors is often recommended.  This may include individual psychotherapy, family psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral treatment, cognitive remediation, and behavioral health interventions.  Though we may recommend medications to your physician, we are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medications.

How can a health psychologist help me?

Health psychologists are trained to help individuals with behavioral aspects of medical issues.  This may involve learning new strategies to improve sleep and manage pain; improving health behaviors such as smoking cessation or diabetes management; providing education regarding a health condition; and helping cope with a serious condition (cancer) or disability from illness (inability to drive or live independently after stroke).

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