Neuropsychological Assessments, Part 1


Another test? But I’m so tired. What’s the point?

I took a mini neuropsychological test and it has earned me the diagnosis of memory loss and a recommendation to take more tests. I’m not exactly stunned by this. It does hurt my pride though. I mean to know something, or suspect something, is very different from seeing it written on your diagnosis rap sheet with a diagnosis code and a bunch of recommended tests, followup appointments, referrals to other specialists, and of course, nothing is complete without that pathetic look in their eyes, because I’m only 40 and most of their patients are dealing with age related dementia. And then I get that look of horror mixed with pity when I share a bit of my history, my traumatic past that no one wants to know about. Yeah. Sigh. See why I try to avoid people in general, its just easier on everyone.  But here was interesting actually, in a humiliating way, I could tell they kept checking if I was lucid. They repeated everything and kept asking the day and time and gave this look like I might grow horns or spit on them or something. I can only imagine what they deal with day to day. Well likely not people spontaneously growing horns. But it must take enormous loads of patience to treat people that aren’t sure where or when they are.

(Interesting backstory, I actually had a job once in a VA hospital giving these type of assessments for a longevity brain health study. I hope I controlled my expressions better than this nurse did when people gave incorrect answers. I hope I didn’t make them feel stupid. It is hard enough coming in there, to be poked prodded and assessed, we don’t need to be judged.)

So a gratitude moment. I know who and when I am.

But I have lost lots of who I am.

We need more info on what has happened, what areas of my brain have been affected. So here comes neuropsych evaluations, which includes a lengthy, like many hours of targeted cognitive ability testing and discussions with neuropsychologists. The mini test completely drained me and I needed a nap afterwards. I failed on skip counting, producing words in categories, and recalling events from certain dates in history. I’m more than a little worried to take the longer assessment, both for the stress and fatigue, and for its findings. Although I want to find out and start rehab if possible, I’m also terrified they will tell me there is nothing they can do, or that I can completely effed up and shouldn’t even be walking around unsupervised.

I almost canceled the upcoming exam. But I worked through my fears how I always do. I did some research. Science is so soothing and wonderful. I’m not excited about it, but I’m determined now to get some answers. This void of not knowing is somewhat comfortable and if I’ve learned anything by now, the right thing to do, is not the comfortable thing. ”


Test results can be used to understand your situation in a number of ways:

  1. Testing can identify weaknesses in specific areas. It is very sensitive to mild memory and thinking problems that might not be obvious in other ways. When problems are very mild, testing may be the only way to detect them. For example, testing can help determine whether memory changes are normal, age related changes or if they reflect a neurological disorder. Testing might also be used to identify problems related to medical conditions that can affect memory and thinking, such as diabetes, metabolic or infectious diseases, or alcoholism.
  2. Test results can also be used to help differentiate among illnesses, which is important because appropriate treatment depends on accurate diagnosis. Different illnesses result in different patterns of strengths and weaknesses in testing. Therefore, the results can be helpful in determining which areas of the brain might be involved and what illness might be operating. For instance, testing can help to differentiate among Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and depression. Your physician will use this information along with the results of other tests, such as brain imaging and blood tests, to come to the most informed diagnosis possible.
  3. Sometimes testing is used to establish a “baseline,” or document a person’s skills before there is any problem. In this way, later changes can be measured very objectively.
  4. Test results can be used to plan treatments that use strengths to compensate for weaknesses. The results help to identify what target problems to work on and which strategies to use. For example, the results can help to plan and monitor rehabilitation or to follow the recovery of skills after a stroke or traumatic brain injury.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s