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Neuropsychological Assessment: A Key Piece of the Puzzle After Brain Injury
Traditionally a patient is treated and evaluated by a number of medical doctors after a traumatic brain injury and one or more of these physicians may continue to follow the patient for a prolonged period to monitor recovery and manage medications. In addition the treatment team is composed of other professionals whose services are well understood by families, e.g., physical therapists, speech language pathologists and occupational therapists. However, at some point post injury the individual with brain injury should be referred for a neuropsychological assessment and this procedure as well as the professional providing the services may be less well known. It can be confusing for individuals and families to understand the differences between a neurologic evaluation and a neuropsychological assessment. Many patients are seen by neurologists and the kind of assessment a neurologist performs is designed to evaluate the central nervous system at all levels without comprehensive and specific findings to determine the presence of dysfunction. In many cases the neurologist may refer the patient to a neuropsychologist for more specific information about an individual’s strengths and weaknesses as a result of brain injury. A neuropsychologist is a psychologist with specialized training in brain-behavior relationships and instead of being a medical doctor (M.D.) the academic credentials for a neuropsychologist will likely be Ph.D. or Psy.D.
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