What happens in an assessment
Assessments are usually carried out by a consultant neuropsychologist and an assistant neuropsychologist working together as a team. The goal of the assessment is to find out whether different aspects of cognition are working as they should, in relation to the age and background of the patient. No two assessments are the same. The consultant will review any medical records and scans that are available, then discuss the patient’s views on their problem in a clinical interview. It is usually best if we can see the patient along with someone who knows them well and who can give another perspective on the problem.
The cognitive evaluation involves a range of specialist tests (selected from over 500 possibilities). These tests include quizzes, problems and puzzles that let us measure attention, memory, language, perception, and reasoning capacity. Mood and social functioning are also evaluated. We then score the tests and analyse the results, comparing the findings with background studies of the same tests based on many hundreds of volunteers. The final results are then interpreted in relation to what is known about brain function and the different types of difficulty associated with particular diseases.
The amount of time needed for an evaluation varies depending on the problem being assessed. It usually takes several hours to collect the information. After the assessment there is a debriefing session, where the preliminary results of our assessment are discussed with the patient (and their family if appropriate). We then provide a written report for the referring practitioners and (if requested) a written summary for the patient.
A single appointment is often enough for us to collect information to answer the referring doctor’s questions.