When we talk about traumatic brain injuries, we talk about the physical manifestations of it. Is there something we can see on an x-ray, a CT scan or an MRI? What most people are most concerned about aren’t those things. Instead, they are wondering how to quantify the impact that a traumatic event has had on their ability to use their brain; what result it has had on their cognition, thought processes, ability to process language, numbers or other necessary tasks relative to their previous ability.
To evaluate the extent of cognitive impact from a brain injury, a patient will typically undergo a battery of tests used to pinpoint the functions of different parts of the brain we know to be responsible for various actions and understanding. This test process is called Neuropsychological Evaluation. Testing is comprehensive, covering many areas of brain function, and can take all day.
What does a Neuropsychological Evaluation entail?
The neuropsychological evaluation includes testing of dexterity, abstract concepts, language, numbers, recall, delayed recall, immediate memory, working memory, and so on. It tests all the different things that we expect our brain should do every day and neuropsychological examination looks for any unusual decreases in certain areas of function.
In other words somebody who was doing very well prior to their injury may have an unusually low score following their injury. Or, depending on the type of brain injury, there is simply a global decrease in abilities, which is where everything the brain is doing is impaired. So, somebody who had previously been functioning at a high level now can’t do any of the testing properly.