A head injury, stroke, or other neurological disease brings with it cognitive changes or new challenges to previous lifestyles. Many people report feeling no longer themselves and having to adjust to a new way of living with an unwelcome injury. Clinical Neuropsychology has two aims: to test your cognitive strengths to help you compensate for any new cognitive weaknesses and to help you adapt and discover a lifestyle you want despite lasting injury.
Neuropsychology focuses on the effects of an injury to the brain on a person’s whole life. Such injuries can include traumatic brain injury (falls, accidents), stroke, neurological diseases, chronic diagnoses like Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis, and brain tumors. Neuropsychology emphasises a holistic approach to understanding the impact of the injury on the person’s physical and mental capacities, their lifestyle choices, their work and leisure activities, and their roles within social and family life. It may involve working with the patient to understand their injury and the impact it is having. We focus on working together with the client and/or family system to adjust to the repercussions of injury or ongoing diagnosis and to identify strategies that may help overcome any weaknesses or functional challenges that have emerged.
At HMP, a neuropsychologist will take a thorough history of the person, their medical history and diagnoses, and current and previous ways of living life. Much like the work done in Clinical Psychology, the neuropsychologist will get to know the person and the areas within the person’s life that are causing distress (possibly involving input from partners or families if relevant). To help guide treatment approaches, it may be appropriate to participate in cognitive assessment.
Cognitive assessment is a specialisation of the neuropsychologist. This kind of assessment aims to clarify the strengths and weaknesses of the way a person thinks. Everyone has their own cognitive profile with natural strengths and natural weaknesses that differ from person to person. However, after a neurological injury, this profile can be altered, and it may be of value to formally identify what aspects of thinking are still strong. This information can be particularly useful if the person wants to return to work or to a position of responsibility where mistakes can be detrimental. The cognitive assessment involves various pencil and paper tasks, some of which may feel like games while others are more challenging. These tasks assess different areas of cognition, including memory, speed of thinking, visual perceptual processing, problem-solving, and language fluency.
With an understanding of current cognitive functioning, goals can then be set, and cognitive strategies or psychological work can be initiated to help the person adjust to any changes that have happened in their life and the emotional responses they have felt. Traditional Clinical Psychology treatment techniques may be appropriate, including injury-informed CBT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Compassion Focused Treatment, or Schema work. Trauma treatment may be appropriate for working through a grieving process. Focusing on additional symptoms such as sleep, pain, motivation, and identity development may all need prioritising. Some work may involve considering the family unit, social/work systems, community opportunities, or the broader environment when helping the person find new ways to cope with what they have been through. Beyond the client, HMP Neuropsychologists offer individual treatment for family and caregivers of those who have suffered an injury, as the impact of the injury can significantly affect more people than the patient alone.
To determine whether a neuropsychological assessment or treatment may be appropriate, use the enquiry form below to get in touch.