Clinical Neuropsychology- Life after Brain Injury

 

What is neuropsychology?

It is a field of psychology that focuses on the effects of an injury to the brain on a person’s whole life.  Such injuries can
include traumatic brain injury (falls, accidents), stroke, neurological disease, chronic diagnoses like Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Schlerosis, and brain tumours.  Neuropsychology emphasises a holistic approach to understanding the impact of the injury on the person’s physical and mental capacities, their lifestyle choices, their work and leisure activities, and their roles within social and family life.  It may involve working with the patient to understand their injury and the impact it is having.  It may mean working together with the psychologist to adjust to the repercussions of injury or ongoing diagnosis and to identify strategies that may help overcome any weaknesses that have developed.

 

What does a neuropsychologist do?

A neuropsychologist will take a thorough history of the person, his or her medical history and diagnoses, and current and previous ways of living life.  Much like the work done in Clinical Psychology,  the neuropsychologist will get to know the person and the areas within the person’s life that are causing distress.  Goals can be set and emotional work can be instigated to help the person adjust to any changes that have happened in their life and the emotional response they have felt.  Trauma treatment may be involved or working through a grieving process.  Some work may involve considering the family unit or greater environment when helping the person find new ways to cope with what they have been through and any changes.  To help guide treatment approaches, it may be appropriate to participate in cognitive assessment.

Cognitive assessment is a specialism of the neuropsychologist.  This kind of assessment aims to clarify the strengths and weaknesses of the way a person thinks.  Everyone has their own cognitive profile with natural strengths and natural weaknesses that differs from person to person.  However, after a neurological injury, this profile can be altered, and it may be of value to formally identify what aspects of thinking are still strong.  This information can be particularly useful if the person wants to return to work or to a position of responsibility where mistakes can be detrimental.  The cognitive profile can be used by the neuropsychologist to identify strategies that may help compensate for or support weaknesses to ensure highest level of performance.

A cognitive profile is put together when the person participates in a number of pencil and paper tasks.  Some of these tasks feel like games, some are much more challenging.  The tasks vary in length and whether they are timed.  They are set up to give a clear picture of different areas of cognition including:

- Memory

- Speed of Thinking

- Visual Perceptual Processing

- Problem Solving

- Language Fluence

As part of an assessment, the person will receive a formal report and a feedback session to understand the meaning of the results and any recommendations made.  Opportunities will be provided to discuss how the findings may be of impact within daily life and what can be done that will help maximise functioning.  Strengths will also be highlighted.

 

Is neuropsychology right for me?

To determine whether a neuropsychological assessment may be appropriate, use the contact information to get in touch.   It is possible talk therapy may be most appropriate for you as you cope with concerns of Health Psychology.  However, a cognitive assessment may also be of value, and this option can be discussed in an initial assessment.