Brainstem Injuries and the Neuropsychologist
The Neuropsychologist plays an essential function in assessment
and rehabilitation after an injury to the head.
Neuropsychologists essentially bear responsibility for testing
and tracking the patients thinking ability. Below are key
functions provided by clinical neuropsychologists:
- Carrying out detailed assessments of cognition, emotion,
behavior, and social competence;
- Devising and implementing training programs;
- Liaising with educational agencies/ employers to advise on
the resumption of educational/ vocational life;
- Advising on the management cognitive deficits/
- Advising and providing long term care;
- Providing psychotherapeutic input to address the emotional
impact of injury and disabilities;
- Facilitating personal, family, and social adjustment
A screening for a neuropsychological evaluation should be done
as soon as possible after an injury to the brain or in this
case, brainstem. A comprehensive evaluation is necessary if
complaints and or problems persist. In most cases, an evaluation
is performed biannually for the first two years, and as
necessary, depending on the subjectivity of the patients status.
An exam by the neuropsychologist typically involves a wide
variety of tasks, most of which are done sitting at a table or
at bedside in a hospital (www.neuropsychologycentral.com, 2002).
The examination is non-invasive, and usually is not painful. The
evaluation often takes 6 to 8 hours of face-to-face contact, but
can vary widely depending on what information is being sought
Test results are used, depending on the reason for the
evaluation. In this case, we are studying lesions or tumors to
- Confirm or clarify a diagnosis.
- Provide a profile of strengths and weaknesses to guide
rehabilitation, educational, vocational, or other services.
- Document changes in functioning since prior examinations,
including effects of treatment.
- Clarify what compensatory strategies would help.
- Result in referrals to other specialists, such as
educational therapists, cognitive rehabilitation
professionals, neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists,
social workers, nurses, special education teachers, or
vocational counselors (www.neuropsychologycentral.com,
Neuropsychologists evaluate and monitor the course of recovery
or the efficiency of rehabilitation. And the big question Is the
person getting better? A Neuropsychological evaluation may be
essential to verify whether a person really has a brainstem
injury. The effects of stress, medications, and or depression
can be easily confused with mild brain injury. Some research
indicates that neuropsychologists have noticed an absence of
depression in patients with severe traumatic brain injury, yet