Neuropsychology is the study of the relationship between the different areas of the brain and human behaviour. Some conditions like Parkinson’s bring about behavioural and cognitive changes in the patient. So, specialists in medical neuropsychology may recommend an evaluation for the same.
Unlike other tests, an evaluation in medical neuropsychology does not involve complex machines or a laboratory. The test can generally be carried out at the doctor’s office. Those who have been recommended to go through the evaluation may be wondering what it would be like. Here is the complete guide.
What happens in a neuropsychological evaluation?
People who have been recommended to take the test will be asked about their detailed medical history. The physician will want to know if anything could have altered the patient’s cognitive abilities. For instance, a patient with a history of stroke may have slower thinking and talking patterns.
There are many ways to conduct the test. It may either be a pen and paper test, or the doctor may expect the patient to answer orally. Here is a sample of the types of tests that a physician may administer.
- Motor tests – to check motor skills. It may include tests like stacking blocks by their size, inserting pegs in a pegboard with a single hand and the like.
- Memory tests – The physician may give cards or a board containing some phrases, pictures or numbers. The test will determine if the patient can memorize and reproduce the contents shown to them.
- Verbal communication test – This test determines the verbal ability of the patient. They may be asked to name some items, list words from a given letter, and so on.
The tests may take a couple of hours with a few breaks in-between.
Preparing for the test
It is natural to be anxious about the test. So, here are a few tips about how to prepare for a neuropsychological evaluation.
- An exhausted mind cannot work to its full potential. Thus, one must ensure to get a good night’s sleep before the test.
- One must inform the doctor about any similar exam that one has taken.
- Those who are on medication must discuss with their doctor whether it is safe to take the medicines before the exam.
- Do not drink alcohol for 24 hours before the exam.
- Eat well before the test.
Those who are emotionally distraught or are experiencing psychiatric conditions must wait until they become more stable before taking the test. One must be relaxed and calm during the test. This test cannot be compared to regular tests in academics. Thus, there is no reason to worry whether one will ‘pass’ the test. It can cause stress which will, in turn, prevent one from giving their best.
After the tests, the clinic/hospital will generate the report explaining the results. The result will usually state the diagnosis and the possible treatment options for the same.
These tests in medical neuropsychology can be used for a wide range of purposes. People who have undergone neurosurgical procedures are made to take the tests to ensure that their cognitive abilities haven’t changed post-surgery. In others, the tests may reveal if some mental and behavioural changes have anything to do with the brain’s condition. In some cases, the physician may order CT and MRI scans to know more about the brain.
Overall, the tests in quite helpful in determining the possible problems with the functioning of the brain. With the diagnosis that follows the tests, the doctor can come up with a suitable treatment plan to help eliminate or better deal with the condition.