The length of a typical evaluation is from 4 to 7 hours, usually completed in one day, with a one-hour lunch break. Sometimes, the evaluation may be divided up over two or more days for patients who have limited endurance or for children.
The evaluation starts with a detailed interview of the patient or caregiver (or both) regarding their complaints and history, lasting about 1 to 1 ½ hours. In the remaining time, the patient will be asked to perform various verbal, non-verbal, paper-pencil, and/or computer tasks that will test the limits of his or her ability.
Often, spouses, parents, teachers, or other informants are also asked to complete questionnaires regarding the patients functioning.
Unlike school, there is no “pass” or “fail”. There is no way to study for a neuropsychological evaluation. Instead, results are compared to others that are similar in age, education, sex and background. Even though it can be mentally challenging, most patients find the process intellectually stimulating and interesting.
The best preparation is to get plenty of rest, eat a good breakfast, avoid sedating medications (as recommended by a physician), and bring the following on the day of the appointment:
- Forms sent by our office
- Valid photo ID and insurance cards
- Hearing aids/ glasses/ assistive devices
- Medication list
- Relevant medical records (e.g., physician reports, brain imaging reports, rehab evaluations, etc.)
- School records for academic evaluations (e.g., IEP or 504 plans)
- Previous cognitive or psychological evaluations
- Snacks (if needed)
A detailed report will be prepared typically within 2-4 weeks and shared with the referring physician. In most circumstances, a one-hour debriefing session is scheduled at this time where results and recommendations are reviewed with the patient. It is most helpful when a support person such as a spouse or parent also attend the debriefing session in order to understand the patient’s strength and weaknesses.