Ask Nurse Dianne: Neuropsychological Testing

neurology.jpgGluckstein Lawyers is pleased to introduce our new monthly blog series called "Ask Nurse Dianne". Get the answers to frequently asked medical questions from our in-house Medical Nurse and Consultant, Dianne Henderson.


My sister was involved in a car accident and sustained a severe brain injury. She has never had a neuropsychological assessment. We attended a physiatry appointment recently and the Doctor could not believe that this testing was not recommended. Could you give me your thoughts?

Nurse Dianne Answers

Neuropsychological tests, involve performance of specific cognitive tasks which can be helpful for confirming self-reported symptoms and tracking recovery. The tests assess a range of abilities such as memory, concentration, information processing, executive function, and reaction time. Computerized test batteries and/or abbreviated traditional (paper and pencil) test batteries may be most practical and informative during the early phase of recovery and again at certain intervals during the recovery process.

There are three broad goals to neuropsychological testing:

  1. To determine the nature of the underlying problem.
  2. To understand the nature of the brain injury or resulting cognitive problem and its impact on the individual, as a means of devising a rehabilitation programme or offering assistance as to an individual's ability to carry out a certain tasks (for example, instructing a legal representative or ability to drive).
  3. To measure change in functioning, such as to determine the consequences of trauma or the impact of a rehabilitation programme over time.

It is a general rule that a neuropsychological assessment is not performed before 6 months post injury as there may be a degree of spontaneous recovery. At the 6 month mark a neuropsychological assessment can identify areas of difficulties and can make recommendations for treatment and provide a baseline for further testing. It is suggested that neuropsychological assessments are valuable tools to be completed every 2 to 3 years to chronicle the benefits of certain interventions and to document any gains or problems that the person is having.

It is also beneficial to document the level of insight the person is experiencing. Insight or awareness into one's deficits can often lead to a change in behavior. An example of a change in behavior may be signs of a depressive state or an acting out.

By identifying the cause of the change in behavior - psychologists, social workers and or family members can better understand and manage the condition. It can also determine whether the individual is faking a disorder (malingering) in order to draw attention or increase the award in a legal matter.

If there is any question about your sister undergoing neuropsychological testing - please consult your sister's legal representative. The results of the neuropsychological testing is often the data that is used to make recommendations for her future needs. Your sister's future needs would be considered in any settlement agreement. There are a number of great articles on the internet - simply google this key phrase: "the importance of neuropsychological testing".

ABOUT Nurse Dianne

DIANNE HENDERSON, Reg.N., B.A. Psych, M.Ed. is the in-house Medical Nurse and Consultant for Gluckstein Lawyers.

Do you have a question? Email your question to Nurse Dianne at [email protected]


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