Neuropsychological Assessment

Neuropsychological Assessment

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What is clinical neuropsychology?

Clinical neuropsychology is a branch of clinical psychology that is concerned with how well the brain is functioning and how our brain impacts how we think, feel, and act. The field is dedicated to understanding the relationship between observable behavior and underlying brain functioning and how we may use this understanding to help with the diagnosis and management of medical, neurological, and psychological problems.

What is a Neuropsychologist?

A Clinical Neuropsychologist is a Clinical Psychologist with additional training and coursework in neuroanatomy, behavioral neurology, brain functioning, medical and neurological illness, and how these factors impact how we think, act, and feel. A Clinical Neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist, has a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, has completed a pre-doctoral internship focusing on neuropsychology, and a two year post-doctoral fellowship in Clinical Neuropsychology.

What is Board Certification in Clinical Neuropsychology?

Board certification by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) in Clinical Neuropsychology is the best way to assure that your Doctor has met academic/training requirements and can ethically refer to themselves as a “neuropsychologist” and complete neuropsychological evaluations. Board certification ensures that your Doctor has demonstrated the highest level of competence and skill as judged by his or her peers, and is not practicing outside the their area of expertise. The board certification process includes a review of credentials, written exam, review of work samples, and an intense oral examination.

At this time, Dr. Contardo is the ONLY ABPP-Board Certified Clinical Neuropsychologist in southwestern and south central Michigan, northern Indiana, and northwest Ohio.

Please visit www.theaacn.org for listings of ABPP neuropsychologists in Grand Rapids, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Toledo, Dayton, Indianapolis, and Chicago.

What will an appointment be like?

An appointment will generally last about three hours and will consist of an in-depth interview with the patient and any family members that the patient would like to be there. This interview will cover a broad range of topics (medical and social history and current functioning) that are designed to help answer the presenting problem in the most efficient and accurate manner. After the interview is complete, Dr. Contardo, or a trained psychometrician, will administer a series of tests to assess memory, language, processing speed, and other aspects of brain functioning that will provide Dr. Contardo with the necessary information to comprehensively answer the referral question.

Please be sure to have all relevant medical records, medication lists, and any neuroimaging available for Dr. Contardo’s review at the time of your appointment.

What can a neuropsychology evaluation help with?

A neuropsychological evaluation can answer many questions for patients, families, and medical professionals regarding cognitive and emotional functioning. Common referral questions include:

  • Safety concerns for current living arrangements and driving
  • Why is my memory bad?
  • Neurodegenerative illness (dementia) diagnosis clarification and treatment recommendations
  • The impact of emotional distress, attentional difficulties (ADHD), and learning disabilities on academic performance
  • Pre and post-surgical (neurological, cardiac, orthopedic) evaluations for predictions and assessments of delirium, as well as potential cognitive and emotional impact
  • Post-stroke assessment of cognition, language, behavior, and emotion as well as family education, recovery prognosis, and treatment recommendations
  • Pre-bariatric evaluations to assess the impact of psychological and cognitive factors on post-surgical success and treatment adherence
  • Assessment and treatment of the cognitive and emotional impact of head injury
  • Athletic return-to-play decisions
  • The impact of acute medical illness on cognition, emotion, and behavior
  • Assessing the impact of emotional distress on cognition and psychological treatment planning such as PTSD, anxiety, depression and other psychiatric illness

What will be the outcome?

The outcome of an evaluation will depend on the reason for your appointment. Dr. Contardo will produce a report that strives to provide real-world, useful recommendations that address the behavioral, emotional and cognitive concerns of the patient and family. By providing a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation with recommendations, Dr. Contardo can provide an important piece of preventative healthcare and can help patients and families avoid the dangers associated with declining cognition as they may impact independent living, driving, medication adherence, and the impact of medical and neurological illness.

Dr. Contardo will always schedule a follow-up appointment for the patient and family to return and receive a copy of their report, go over the results and recommendations, and answer any additional questions. Recommendations and discussion regarding driving, independent living, financial management and other safety issues that are associated with cognitive decline are often touched upon.

Forensic Neuropsychological Services

Dr. Contardo also offers neuropsychological expertise in defense/plaintiff litigation, as well as independent examinations for personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. Attorney consultation to review documentation, explain test results, critiquing another expert’s report, assessing merits of mental health defense, and developing appropriate questioning as well as expert witness testimony and consultation is also available.

Inpatient Neuropsychological Evaluations

Inpatient neuropsychological evaluations occur as a consultation/liaison service throughout Lakeland Hospital and are available to anyone that is a patient in the hospital, at the request of their physician or treatment team. These evaluations are often used to aid physicians and staff in the diagnosis and treatment of acute conditions that impact a patient’s ability to think clearly or to determine if the patient has the cognitive capacity to return to an independent living environment or would be more appropriate for a supervised setting.

An inpatient neuropsychological evaluation may be appropriate if, for example, a patient remains disoriented after a surgical procedure, or their family notices difficulties with memory or other cognitive abilities while they are hospitalized. Inpatient neuropsychological evaluations may be able to differentiate if these cognitive difficulties can be attributed to an acute medical or psychological cause, or represent a worsening of pre-existing cognitive difficulties. Assessments for the likelihood of acute encephalopathy or delirium subsequent to a surgical procedure, and associated treatment planning are a common referral.

For inpatient neuropsychological consultation please have your treating physician contact Dr. Contardo by phone or by faxing a consultation request. Inpatient neuropsychological consultations are completed based on availability or can be scheduled immediately upon discharge as an outpatient.