When is a Neuropsychological Exam Necessary?

Posted By: Tony Baratta | July 15th, 2020

I’m Tony Baratta. Today, I wanted to talk to you about when a neuropsychological exam is necessary.

The unique thing about a brain injury is that sometimes significant brain changes can be seen on a diagnostic study like an MRI or a C.T. scan, but the person could have actually no neurocognitive dysfunction.


When neuropsychological testing is helpful

On the other hand, someone could have significant neurocognitive dysfunctions and have no lesions that are visible on a C.T. scan or an MRI,. In those cases, neuropsychological testing is helpful.

Because a brain injury is so difficult to see, a neuropsychological exam can help us understand what causes the neurocognitive issues and how to treat them.


What is a neuropsychological exam?

A doctor called a neuropsychologist performs a battery of studies. These are written tests and verbal tests. Sometimes they also test the ability of the person to manipulate their hands and fingers. These various tests take place over the course of a day or two.


What is tested?

The tests are for things like memory, attention, processing, and speed, which is how long it takes someone to do a task. The tests also include reasoning, judgment, problem solving, and spatial skills, such as how to know where your body is in space. They also test language skills and the ability to read. These are the kinds of things that are tested.


What happens next?

The neuropsychologist also has the expertise to compare your results to the results of someone of the same sex, and generally the same age, the same race, and the same educational level. And from these results, the neuropsychologist can then figure out what the cause of the problem is.

Is it due to injury? Is it due to normal aging or is it due to something like depression or anxiety? It also helps to understand to what extent and how the neurocognitive functioning is affected and what parts of the brain are showing problems.


Guidance for treatment options

That’s because the testing accomplishes two things. It helps offer a baseline for further testing and an understanding of how treatment can help improve the symptoms.

And secondly, it also helps to provide guidance to the treating doctors how best to offer treatment and what kind of treatment options are available and should be proffered for this problem.


My name is Tony Baratta, and I hope this has been helpful to you.


About the Author

Anthony J. Baratta (Tony) is a trial attorney. He has tried more than 50 cases to Juries in State and Federal Courts and has litigated thousands of personal injury and medical malpractice cases in his 30-year career. Tony is the founding partner of Baratta, Russell, & Baratta and an active board member of the Pennsylvania Brain Injury Association (BPIA). Tony is also on the board for the Philadelphia VIP and performs pro bono work for the Laurel House, a non-profit for victims of domestic abuse. In addition, Tony is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for trial attorneys, voted one of Philadelphia’s Super Lawyers for the past 14 years, and a 2018 recipient of the First Judicial District Pro Bono Award for the Civil Trial Division.

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