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  • Neuropsychological Testing

    An injury to the brain whether concussion or more severe can affect the function of the person and their cognitive reasoning abilities. Through time and research, doctors have developed methods to assess the patient on a more holistic level and work with them to get back the greatest amount of functionality that they can. Neuropsychological testing looks over these areas of the individual:

    • Concentration, attention and memory
    • Emotions, personality and behavior
    • Language
    • Problem-solving
    • Planning and organization
    • Intelligence
    • Study skills
    • Perceptual, sensory and motor functions.

    Neuropsychological testing is a form of testing that can be administered after a traumatic brain injury or concussion. The purpose of the testing is to assess the patient’s abilities, behaviors, and emotions. When there is an injury to the brain, it is important to understand all of the areas that have been affected so that a comprehensive rehabilitative regime can be established. One important factor to consider is the patient’s occupation. Different occupations will highlight different skills and abilities that will be essential to function on the job. Where a teacher would need to know history and arithmetic, a construction worker would be more focused on gross and fine motor skills. The testing and subsequent history from the family and/or caregiver can provide a baseline to work with to understand which areas of the brain were affected and how these changes are affecting the patient’s current abilities and behavior. From there an action plan can be put into place to work on the specific skills needed to increase the patient’s functionality.

    Some of the tests include repeating numbers, drawing pictures from memory, picking out a picture that was named, naming words that begin with the same letter, sorting cards according to specific criteria, and more.  All of the tests use the brain, but some tests require mere thinking, while other tests require an action to be performed as well. This helps to use all of the various areas of the brain to show the tester where any deficiencies might lie.

    All of the information gathered from the individual testing will give the neuropsychologist and the rehabilitation team such as the speech therapist, physical therapist, vocational counselor and/or home care provider, if applicable,  an understanding of how to manage and treat a patient involving a traumatic brain injury.

    The cognitive domains that are typically affected by a brain injury may include:

    Attention:  Attention must be shared between multiple stimuli or tasks.  For example, when a patient may burn food while cooking because she cannot divide her attention between setting a table, preparing a salad or sautéing meat on the stove.

    Memory:  There can be difficulties in recalling new information and also problems with working memory in order to achieve an answer.

    Executive functioning (higher cognitive abilities):  There can be difficulties in planning, sequencing, and setting priorities.  For example, a patient may not be able to determine what steps to take in preparing a meal.

    Information processing:  It may take a patient longer to process information and to produce a response.  For example, it may be difficult for the patient to listen to a speaker who talks very fast.  The patient may feel overwhelmed by the conversation.

    Based upon the needs of the patient, a treatment plan is developed after the neuropsychological evaluation and the goal will always focus on increasing independence in everyday life.

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