Q: What is Neuropsychology?
A: Neuropsychology is a specialty profession within the field of clinical psychology that focuses on the relationships between brain function and behavior, including emotional control and problem solving abilities. A neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist (PhD or PsyD), who has obtained additional education and training pertaining to neuroanatomy, physiology, and standardized assessment. Neuropsychologists comprehensively integrate objective test data with behavioral observation, patient self-report measures, informant rating scales, clinical interview data, and medical records in order to create a global picture of strengths and weakness that may be contributing to the overall presenting problem(s). The ultimate goal of a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment is to provide diagnostic clarification as well as to inform treatment planning for daily life, work, and school settings.
Q: How can a Neuropsychologist help me?
A: Neuropsychological assessments are often requested to help medical doctors and other professionals understand how the different systems of the brain are functioning. Comprehensive testing can help to identify or clarify various conditions which cause changes in cognition/memory, mood, or behavior. This includes neurodevelopmental conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism-spectrum disorders, intellectual disability, and learning disorders, as well as acquired conditions such as traumatic brain injury, stroke, and dementia/Alzheimer’s disease. Neuropsychological assessments are also often sought to determine whether the presenting problem(s) are rooted in the cognitive domain, psychological domain, or a combination of both.
Neuropsychological assessment may also be helpful in determining appropriate educational interventions, especially for students who are struggling academically, but do not qualify for 504/IEP accommodations. This can be especially important for ACT/SAT accommodations, which must be completed before age 16 in order to qualify for extended time and other considerations. Such testing can form the basis for college accommodations and other intervention recommendations.
At Madison Neuropsychological Services, we work very closely with the patient/family as well as the providers, treatment/educational team members. Multidimensional collaboration is KEY for seamless integration of test findings with intervention.
Q: What can I expect from a neuropsychological assessment?
A: Comprehensive neuropsychological assessment is typically comprised of intake, one or more testing sessions, and feedback.
A typical comprehensive neuropsychological assessment is spread across three or four appointments, depending upon the age of the individual as well as the reason for referral. Typically, the evaluation begins with an intake session which is a one-hour appointment aimed at gathering the presenting problem(s) and clinical concerns. Registration paperwork and questionnaires are provided during the appointment.
The testing session(s) are conducted on two-half days or may be completed in one full day. The format for which testing will occur will be determined during the intake session. All testing sessions begin in the morning and will last until early or mid-afternoon. Individuals who attend school or work (1st or 2nd shift) should plan to be out for the entire day. During the assessment, the patient will be instructed to complete a variety of tasks, each designed to measure a different aspect of neurocognitive functioning. Tasks include a variety of verbal and visual measures, in which some will require use of paper-pencil and a laptop computer/tablet. A thorough assessment of emotional functioning is also conducted; this will often require the use of subjective self-report measures as well as informant rating scales.
The final appointment is the feedback session, which is an hour long opportunity to discuss the test results and clinical diagnosis. In this appointment, treatment recommendations and intervention strategies are clearly outlined and discussed in detail. Family members and treatment providers are often encouraged to attend this appointment in efforts to ensure understanding of assessment results and recommendations.
Q: How do I prepare for the session(s)?
A: In order to best prepare for your appointment, we recommend the following:
- eat breakfast prior to the appointment
- take medications as prescribed
- bring corrective lenses and/or assistive hearing devices
- try to get as much sleep as possible the night before the assessment
Given the longer duration of the appointment, it is recommended to bring snacks, beverages, and/or lunch with you. For younger patients, parent(s) or caregiver(s) are required to stay in the office suite waiting area for the duration of the assessment. We do our best to accommodate any unique patient needs that might arise during the assessment.
Q: Does my insurance cover the assessment?
A: Current HMO/insurance credentialing has been approved by the following carriers: Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Medicare, The Alliance, Care Wisconsin, SSM Health/Dean HMO, Quartz/Unity, Physicians Plus HMO, and WPS. Please note, that in order to utilize HMO/insurance billing, an MD referral is REQUIRED. Because specific coverage benefits vary considerably across insurance carriers, it is the patient/legal guardian’s responsibility to ensure that neuropsychological assessment is covered PRIOR to assessment. Fee for service is also accepted. Please contact Dr. Porter for more information.