Neuropsychologists are not medical doctors, but doctors of psychology whose field of study is concentrated on the brain and its functions. Neuropsychological testing is designed to determine the brain’s capacity with respect to short and long term memory, abstract reasoning, attention, concentration, executive functioning, motor skills and other cognitive and psychological factors. By comparing the pattern of these results, against the client’s pre-morbid capabilities, and correlating these results with the nature of the trauma suffered by the client, neuropsychologists can, to a reasonable degree of certainty, opine that individuals without an acute diagnosis of brain injury, have permanent deficits as a result of brain trauma.
Neuropsychologists use batteries of tests to determine whether the brain is functioning as it should. Just like tapping a knee to check the reflexes is an objective test of how the nervous system operates, neuropsychological tests are an objective measure of how the brain is functioning.
The neuropsychologist usually works with psychiatrists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, physiatrists and other medical specialists as a team to coordinate a client’s care. The neuropsychologist conducts an evaluation and makes recommendations. He/She may also provide treatment such as cognitive rehabilitation, behavior management and psychotherapy.
The neuropsychologist works to pinpoint the cognitive alterations and lead the individual and his/her family to a better understanding of how everyday performance has changed. Based on behavioral observation of the client, the neuropsychologist’s evaluation and guidance assists in providing more effective rehabilitation and, thus, a more complete and successful recovery.