Sub-Acute Care Team: The Neuropsychologist
What is a neuropsychologist?
Well, we can break the word in two, to get the word ‘psychologist’ which is a doctor of the behavior. We also get the word ‘neurologist’ which is a doctor of the brain. Put them together, and you get to the specialized field of ‘neuropsychology’. This is the study of how the health of the brain affects behavior.
If there is illness or injury in any part of the brain it could affect a person’s behavior in many ways. For example, the person could be depressed or withdrawn, or lack fair judgement.
When Would A Senior Meet A Neuropsychologist?
In general, there are 2 main sectors of expertise. Firstly, there is the performance of assessments and evaluations for patients. Secondly, there is advising regarding corrective approaches for cognitive and emotional abilities.
The neuropsychologist can, for example:
- Assess the effect of stroke
- Diagnose dementia
- Look at how the brain affects a person’s behavior eg. post-stroke apathy
- Assess a person’s thinking skills, memory, emotions and ability to learn
- Examine abilities for judgment and awareness of self
- Assess how a person is handling an illness or a brain injury
- Meet a patient before or after brain surgery
- Recommend strategies to compensate for disrupted brain function
The neuropsychologist cannot:
- prescribe medication
- perform surgery.
To clarify, the patient goes to a psychiatrist or a neurosurgeon to continue the healing process.
How Many Years Did Your Neuropsychologist Study For?
To qualify as a neuropsychologist, a person needs to study for many years.
It begins with getting a bachelor’s degree, which takes 3 to 4 years to achieve.
Studying towards a Ph.D. in neuropsychology is the next step. That takes between 5 to 8 years. The student needs to produce a major piece of research called a ‘dissertation’.
State licensure is required as well. Your neuropsychologist has to get plenty of practical experience. Meanwhile, he has to pass an “Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology”.
After all that, the person needs to gather a good amount of post-doctoral experience. You can also expect your neuropsychologist to Board-certified with the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology (ABCN).
Follow up After a Neuropsychological Evaluation
The neuropsychologist is trained to understand the results of the evaluation.
This is done by comparing the results of an evaluation with those of others of a similar age and education.
The options to help a patient following an evaluation include:
- Post-acute rehabilitation in an inpatient or outpatient basis
- Surgery (you can read examples of the psychology connection to surgery, and for Parkinson’s or epilepsy)
Working as a Team for the Patient’s Best Recovery
Dr T. L. Bennet in Science Direct questions performing an evaluation in the early days after illness or stroke. Perhaps it is better to perform an assessment after a few months? In any case, he sees the need for professional “collaboration”. In other words, the neuropsychologist recognizes other assessments. A complete assessment can be generated by combining information from all members of the sub-acute care team.
That is a medical discussion above the level of this informative article. But we can recognize how the role of each member of medical staff is so important.
Other members of the sub-acute care team include the recreation therapist, the case manager and the social worker.
The input of the dietitian, the speech-language pathologist and the occupational therapist are precious.
The talents of the physical therapist, the rehab nurse, the neurologist and the physiatrist are appreicated.
Certainly, the neuropsychologist performs an important role in a patient’s recovery. The joint efforts support the patient in the best way. All members of the sub-acute care team give their input. And together, of course, they help the patient travel the journey of post-acute rehab to the best recovery possible.
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