The York University Psychology Clinic is pleased to announce the addition of neuropsychological assessment services to our roster of services. We provide neuropsychological assessments across the life span beginning with children as young as 4 years of age all the way up to our seniors population who may be struggling with memory concerns.
What is a neuropsychologist and what do they do?
A neuropsychologist is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the link between brain and behavior. Clinical neuropsychologists use this knowledge in the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and/or rehabilitation of patients across the life span with neurological, medical, neurodevelopmental and psychiatric conditions, as well as other cognitive and learning disorders.
Our main tool is assessment, or testing, to determine the level of cognitive function a person shows relative to others their age and sex. Cognition includes a wide variety of functions including:
Visuospatial functions - how we see relationships between objects, putting things together, finding our way in the environment
Attention - focusing, shutting out distractions and noticing details
Memory - remembering people, places, lists, events
Executive Functions - complex goal-directed behavior including planning, problem solving, organizing
Language - both expression and understanding of words, ideas, and thoughts
Usually someone is referred to a neuropsychologist if they have complaints about any of these areas noted above. A neuropsychologist can determine strengths and weakness in a cognitive profile through testing each of these areas.
Neuropsychologists do not do brain scans to see if there is brain damage. This type of scanning, using a CT scan or MRI, is always done by a neuroradiologist, a medical doctor who is trained to understand the scans. A neuropsychologist can relate findings on one of these scans to the results of cognitive testing.
What are typical types of referrals seen through this service?
- Anyone concerned about their cognitive skills in the areas identified in the earlier section
- Person with neurological disorders, e.g., brain injury, epilepsy, brain lesions, brain infections such as meningitis, encephalitis
- Person with diabetes, hormonal disorders
- Fetal alcohol syndrome, toxic exposures
- Memory concerns as a person ages
Neuropsychological testing can provide valuable information for diagnosing the concussion and also tracking recovery over time. A baseline and post-injury neuropsychological assessment is recommended in order to most accurately determine the extent of recovery that has occurred if an athlete is concussed. In the absence of a baseline evaluation, a neuropsychological assessment can provide an estimate of an individual's pre-injury level and can be used to identify an individual's unique profile of cognitive strengths and challenges post-concussion. It can help determine:
Symptom Management. It is important to recognize what symptoms an individual is experiencing. These symptoms may significantly impact and limit daily activities in some people
Treatment Plans. It is important to have accommodations in place before symptoms have a significant impact on an individual's school/work experience. Recommendations for enhancing recovery can be provided
Return to Play. Assessment results provide important information regarding determinants of recovery - critical for determining readiness to return to sport play.