Assessments

AssessmentsAs part of my practice, I offer a variety of assessment services, the nature of which changes depending on the presenting problems or concerns of the client, and/or the referral source/question. All assessments are geared towards evaluating an individual’s cognitive (i.e., “thinking”) skills, such as memory, attention, visuospatial ability, problem-solving, processing speed, sensory and motor abilities, and language. Aptitude and achievement, as well as an estimated level of intellectual ability, emotional functioning, and behaviour are also typically assessed, depending on the nature of the evaluation. The results of all assessments will indicate whether diagnostic criteria have been met for a given disorder / impairment, and will help guide treatment planning and recommendations / accommodations, as needed.

Neuropsychological Assessment:

A neuropsychological assessment uses standardized tests and measures to assess an individual’s level of cognitive, emotional and behavioural functioning. Although the measures used are highly sensitive to the effects of brain dysfunction, it should be noted that none of them are invasive in nature. In other words, you may be asked to complete any number of paper-and-pencil measures or questionnaires and will be asked to look at, listen to, and respond to questions and materials shown during testing, but at no point in time will you have any machines or devices attached to you. Unlike more invasive procedures such as MRI and CT scans, or EEGs, which indicate structural and electrical abnormalities in the brain, respectively, the measures used during a neuropsychological assessment are very sensitive to subtle brain dysfunctions that cannot be detected by conventional imaging.

Common reasons people are seen for neuropsychological assessment include (but are not limited to):

  • neurological impairments (e.g., Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis)
  • stroke or other neuro-vascular problems (e.g., TIA)
  • brain injury / concussion
  • medical / health conditions (e.g., diabetes neuropathy, epilepsy)
  • substance or alcohol abuse
  • dementia / mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
  • issues related to aging (i.e., normal age-related changes to cognition versus dementia)

Baseline Cognitive Assessment:

Baseline cognitive assessments are conducted in order to characterize an individual’s areas of cognitive strengths and weaknesses. We all have areas of strength and weakness, and we all experience decline in certain cognitive functions as we age (e.g., speed of motor function). Having a baseline assessment can be a useful tool in determining whether any cognitive decline has occurred over time, particularly in the case of a traumatic brain injury or a known or suspected neurodegenerative process, such as dementia or Parkinson’s disease. Results of such assessments assist in treatment planning, strategies for managing changing abilities and behaviours, and decisions for independent living.

Psycho-educational* / Psycho-vocational Assessment:

Psycho-educational assessments* are requested if there are suspected learning disabilities, developmental disabilities or other difficulties, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), that are impeding an individual’s ability to keep up with school and classroom demands. They may also be requested in light of suspected exceptionalities (i.e., giftedness). Results of the assessment help guide treatment planning as well as any necessary academic accommodations.

Psycho-vocational assessments are conducted when an individual is reporting difficulties keeping up with the demands of his or her job following any type of brain or neurological injury/incident. The aim is to characterize the individual’s cognitive, emotional and behavioural strengths and weaknesses so as to assist with return to work planning or career planning.

Speciality Assessments:

Specialty assessments designed to assess symptom validity, or exaggerated / malingered cognitive dysfunction are also available upon referral.

Medical-Legal and Insurance Examinations:

Medical-legal and insurance examinations designed to assess cognitive and psycho-emotional function following injury are also available upon referral.

*As I am only licensed to see individuals 18 years of age or older, such assessments are conducted to assist with post secondary school aspirations. If you are seeking resources for a child under the age of 18, I will work with you to make a referral to an appropriate clinician who specializes in working with children and adolescents

What should I expect when I come in for an assessment?

What should I expect when I come in for an assessment?

At the start of your assessment appointment, we will take some time to discuss very briefly the nature of the issue(s) you have been experiencing and the type of assessment you will undergo (e.g., neuropsychological, baseline cognitive, psycho-educational / psycho-vocational, or medical-legal, insurance, or specialty assessment). Once that has been established, we will begin the process of informed consent in which I will explain to you issues of privacy, the limits of confidentiality, what type of information will be gathered, how that information will be used, and your rights to access that information. I will explain briefly the nature of testing (i.e., what you will be asked to do, how long it will take, and when the results will be ready). You will also have the opportunity to ask any questions and we can discuss any concerns you may have. If all your questions and concerns have been addressed to your satisfaction and you agree to proceed with the assessment, we will both sign an informed consent form (and we will both keep a copy) and I will begin the assessment.

Regardless of the type of assessment, I will always conduct an initial interview to gather background information (e.g., level of education, work history, history of the problem(s) that brought you in for assessment, relevant medical history, etc.). This interview typically lasts 1-2 hours; the information gathered is used to help determine appropriate measures to administer, to assist with interpretation of test results, and to guide treatment recommendations. Depending on the nature of the presenting problem, I may request your written permission to interview a family member either in person or by phone in order to gather more information. Although the specific tests administered may vary somewhat depending on the nature of the assessment and the presenting problem(s), all tests are standardized measures designed to accurately assess cognitive functioning. For the most part, you will be asked to complete various tasks, including paper-and-pencil type measures, filling in questionnaires, putting things together, listening to or looking at materials, and answering questions.

Depending on the type of assessment, you should expect to be here for a minimum of one half day, and a maximum of 2 full days (with breaks for washroom, lunch and mental breaks, as needed). You will be informed of the expected duration of the assessment at the outset. Upon completion of the assessment, the tests will be scored and interpreted, and results should be available within one month’s time. A report will be drawn up which includes a summary of your relevant background information, the results of tests, any diagnoses (if relevant), and treatment recommendations. Once this report has been completed, we will meet again to go over the results together and discuss the treatment plan. If you were referred for an assessment by a third party, a copy of the report will be sent to the referring source. A copy of the report will also be kept in your file.