Certain medical problems, including Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury (TBI), can affect how your brain works.
If you have one of these conditions, you may notice changes in your “cognitive” or thinking skills.
These include your ability to:
- Find the right words
- Follow instructions
- Make decisions
- Manage your emotions
- Pay attention
- Recognize people and objects
- Drive safely
Even though these symptoms can be frightening, they can be improved or overcome with the right diagnosis and treatments. And the University of Iowa Health Care neuropsychology team can help you pinpoint the cause of any problems and get the treatments you need.
Help understanding your strengths and weaknesses
Just like your primary care provider measures your blood pressure and cholesterol, our neuropsychologists measure your mental abilities and health. We use standardized tests to evaluate skills like concentration, problem- solving, and reasoning. Your test results show whether your cognitive abilities fall within a normal or ideal range based on your age, education level, and other factors.
When combined with other diagnostic information, such as recent brain scans, your test results can shed light on your brain health. We can see whether you’d benefit from certain treatments. And we can make recommendations to keep you safer at home, at work, or in the community.
For example, we can help take the guesswork (and emotion) out of questions about your ability to:
- Drive a vehicle
- Live in your own home, with or without assistance
- Manage your medications
- Take care of your finances
- Use equipment or operate machinery
Long-time leaders in neuropsychology
The field of neuropsychology started right here at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.
Arthur L. Benton, PhD, helped pioneer the field in the early 1950s after creating one of the country’s first neuropsychology labs. He also developed several standardized tests that are still widely used around the world.
Today, our team continues to build upon Benton’s work. Our neuropsychologists are also researchers who aim to advance the field. Their work may lead to new and improved ways to test (and measure) cognitive function, making it easier to identify treatments that are most likely to help.
What to expect
We use a thorough, scientific approach to assess your cognitive abilities. This process can take up to four hours, so you should set aside a half- day for your neuropsychological evaluation.
If a loved one has noticed your symptoms or is involved in your care, we encourage them to take part in your evaluation.
Understanding your history
We’ll start by reviewing your medical history, including any known neurological or psychological illnesses. We’ll also discuss any concerns you or your loved ones have about your cognitive function.
The testing process
Your assessment will consist of several tests that are similar to school exams. You’ll complete some of them using a pencil and paper, while others will require you to verbally answer questions. You may be asked to read, write, draw, or look at flashcards or other objects.
These tests measure certain thinking skills that help us get through the day, including:
- Maintaining focus and concentration
- Memory and recall
- Organization and planning
- Problem solving
- Processing information
- Reading (and reading comprehension)
- Using and understanding language
Results and recommendations
In most cases, we’ll score your tests and summarize your results the same day as your evaluation. We’ll also send a copy of your results—and our treatment recommendations—to your neurologist or other referring provider.
Your results play a big role in determining your prognosis and treatment plan. For example, someone whose forgetfulness is caused by depression will require much different care than someone whose forgetfulness is due to Alzheimer’s disease.
In some cases, treating your underlying illness or injury may be all you need to improve your cognitive function. But if you need additional treatments, such as cognitive therapy, you can rest assured you’ll find them here. UI Health Care offers all the care and support you may need to strengthen your cognitive abilities and remain productive and independent.