Neuropsychologic (neuropsych) testing evaluates patients after concussions. This series of tests examines a patient’s mental abilities in several areas, including:
Emotions, personality and impulsivity aren’t tested. The assessment is usually given on a computer, and the results are reviewed by a neuropsychologist.
After a concussion, brain cells temporarily don’t work properly. Some patients quickly recover from concussions and easily regain their regular brain function – others take more time.
If your doctor suggests neuropsych testing, it might mean that your child is taking longer than expected to recover, or the recovery period is not progressing as anticipated. Neuropsych test results can help your doctor determine if long term concussion-like symptoms are from the injury or if the symptoms are caused by an underlying condition made apparent after the concussion.
Sometimes patients take a “baseline” neuropsych test (a test before they have a head injury), and then they take neuropsych test following a concussion. The results of the post-injury test are compared to the baseline test, and any changes are documented.
Patients who haven’t taken a baseline neuropsych exam are tested after they have a concussion. The results are compared to similar patients’ baseline tests, and are examined for the concussion’s negative impacts. Doctors then use their conclusions to determine special school plans, such as giving the patient quiet spaces to work and eat, or more test taking time.
Neuropsych test results will not determine the patients’ medications and aren’t used in isolation — the testing is just one component of the patient’s entire clinical picture.
Testing varies anywhere from one three-hour session on a single day to two three-hour sessions on two consecutive days, and there is always a follow up meeting to discuss the results.
If your child has taken a baseline neuropsych test and then suffered a concussion, then it’s likely they will take a second test. If your child’s first neuropsych testing is after an injury, then repeat testing may not be necessary. In some cases of long or abnormal recovery periods, repeat testing is used to measure progress.
Private insurance generally covers the cost of the test. Public aid usually doesn’t cover the cost, but Lurie Children’s offers a few appointments a month for public aid patients to be tested for free.
Make an Appointment
The neuropsych testing program at Lurie Children’s requires a referral from your primary care physician or other provider. Call 1.800.543.7362 (1.800.KIDS DOC®) immediately for an appointment as it could be a two to three month wait for the next available test date.