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Evaluation of Traumatic Brain Injury FAQ


How Will Neuropsychological Evaluation Help?

Neuropsychological evaluation is critical for understanding which brain functions are impaired and which remain intact. An effective evaluation can tell the neuropsychologist how the injury specifically affects thinking and behavior. Is the person able to concentrate on tasks? For how long? Under what conditions? Does it matter whether the information is verbal or nonverbal? Standard neurological or physical exams, and even neuroimaging studies (CT scan, MRI), cannot provide this information.

Neuropsychological evaluation may be essential to determine whether a person actually has a brain injury. This is especially true following "mild" brain injury, when effects of an injury may be subtle and easily confused with other factors, such as stress, medications, or depression. Was the person's brain really injured? How? Is impairment still evident? What is the cause of the impairment? How do emotional or psychological factors influence performance or concerns? Is the person's performance in the evaluation a true reflection of how he or she will behave and think on a day-to-day basis? If not, why not?  These are the types of diagnostic questions a neuropsychologist can answer.

Since brain injuries often occur in motor vehicle accident or are raised in issues regarding benefit determinations, disability, criminal matters or civil litigation the issue of the validity of the presentation or the test results themselves is often in question. In these contexts inclusions of neuropsychological tests of validity help assess if the results are valid and help to assist in the determination of the validity of the presentation or claim.   

A number of real-life questions can be answered by neuropsychological evaluation. Is the person who was injured competent? Can he or she be left alone? Drive? Manage money? Live independently? Return to work or school? What type of treatment or therapy will be needed?

Neuropsychological evaluation is also critical in monitoring the course of recovery or the effectiveness of rehabilitation. Is the person getting better? How much? Has treatment been helpful?


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When Should a Neuropsychological Evaluation Be Done?

Ideally, at least a screening exam should be done as soon as possible after a brain injury is documented or suspected. If problems or complaints persist, a comprehensive evaluation is needed. In many cases of brain injury, it is helpful to have an evaluation every six months for the first two years, and as needed thereafter, depending on whether the person's functional status has changed.


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Who Benefits from the Results of Neuropsychological Evaluation?

Explanation of examination results can be very helpful to persons with brain injury and their families. Consultation can also help employers, insurance providers, administrators, case managers, agencies, and professionals including: attorneys, internists, learning centers, neurologists, neurosurgeons, nurses, physiatrists, psychiatrists, psychologists, rehabilitation therapists and counselors, social workers, and teachers.


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For more on the neuropsychological assessment of brain injury visit the CPANCF.COM and Forensic websites.  Note: CPANCF, P.A. is the parent of