Neuropsychology is the science of brain and behavior. As a specialty field within clinical psychology, neuropsychologists complete an accredited doctoral program in clinical psychology with a clinical internship and two years of post-doctoral training specializing in the brain.
A neuropsychological evaluation can provide invaluable information about why someone may be having difficulty with memory, attention, language, problem solving or decision-making or having a change in mood or behavior. The goal of a neuropsychological evaluation is to clarify what is causing the symptoms (what exactly is going on?) and inform treatment recommendations to maximize independence and quality of life (what we are going to do about it?).
We receive most of our referrals from primary care physicians and neurologists, in addition to individuals and families requesting our services. At the end of our evaluation, your neuropsychologist writes a comprehensive report detailing the results and personalized recommendations including those for the referring provider. We encourage other providers to contact us on the phone if they have any additional questions or would like to discuss decisions about the person’s care in more detail.
There are a few good rules of thumb regarding when it might be time to consider a neuropsychological evaluation.
If an individual or family member feels that there has been change in the patient’s thinking, memory, mood or behavior a neuropsychological evaluation can provide significant benefit.
The most important change to be aware of is if a person’s cognitive symptoms i.e. changes in short-term memory or organization, interfere with what we call instrumental activities of daily living or their quality of life. This means the person starts to have more difficulty than is normal for them in driving, remembering to take medications or managing complex financial matters such as getting taxes together or managing a checking account or if they have not “been themselves” in terms of mood or behavior to the extent that you are concerned.
If someone has been diagnosed with a condition that involves the brain, such as a stroke, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, any type of dementia, traumatic brain injury, brain cancer, or other medical conditions known to effect the brain, including a traumatic fall involving the head, sleep apnea, heart attack with a loss of consciousness, diabetes, high blood pressure or depression/anxiety/PTSD, we believe that a neuropsychological evaluation is an essential part of that person’s healthcare.
Broadly speaking, older adults (over the age of 65) would benefit from a baseline evaluation even if they don’t have any significant cognitive concerns at this time especially if there is a family history of dementia. The memory medications on the market today are most beneficial when started as early as possible and the best way to know if there has been an objective change is through a cognitive evaluation. Many older adults have normal age-related changes or treatable forms of memory loss that we can then normalize and reassure. Anxiety about changes in memory can cause memory symptoms because they can distract us and reduce our ability to concentrate on the here and now. In the worst case scenario, there is something significant going on and we make a proactive plan and give the person the best chance to live the highest quality of life. In the best-case scenario, if the evaluation is normal for the person’s age, we can talk about strategies to keep it that way.
Our evaluation will help you, the people that care about you and your other doctors. For you personally, we feel you deserve to know exactly what is going on with your brain. If your problems are to be expected with age, you will learn that. If testing confirms that you have more memory problems than are expected for your age, then you may benefit from a memory enhancing medication specific to your diagnosis. You cannot get the best care possible if your doctors don't know what is causing your symptoms. The people that care about you will benefit by knowing how to help you remain as independent as possible with the best quality of life and care. Other care providers appreciate our comprehensive reports so they understand how your brain is working in detail and know exactly how to help you, as well.
A neuropsychological evaluation will:
- Reduce uncertainty about a change in thinking or behavior
- Make medication recommendations for your primary care provider or neurologist to consider that may treat, reduce or slow symptoms
- Reduce modifiable risks that may contribute to memory decline or functional impairment
- Provide education and support to you and your family
- Connect you to community-based resources
- Inform decision making about abilities such as driving, living independently, level of supervision needed
- Provide a baseline for ongoing monitoring of cognitive symptoms, changing care needs
- Help you plan for the future
We accept most major insurance plans except Medicaid. Most insurance companies will pay for a neuropsychological evaluation when you are referred by your primary care provider. We submit pre-authorization paperwork on all of our patients to make sure we are clear on your financial responsibilities prior to the appointments. Contact us to review your personal benefits with our helpful office staff.
Generally speaking, most plans require a referral from your primary care physician or a specialist like a neurologist or cardiologist. You can either ask your doctor to send us a referral via fax or you can contact us by telephone and we can help you get this. See below for our contact information.
Monday - Thursday
8:30am - 5:00pm
PO Box 3991
Pinehurst, NC 28374