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Neuropsychological Evaluation and Treatment

A neuropsychological evaluation shows how someone's brain is working. It reveals how an injury, stroke, congenital issue, or disease affects a person's memory, mood, language, problem-solving skills, focus, and more. It also can help diagnose a new health problem, such as dementia or cognitive changes resulting from treatment.

The evaluation process helps people learn how to adapt and from which therapies they may benefit. It also helps families learn how to better support their loved one and know what to expect during their recovery.

Clinicians assess people in the hospital or in an outpatient setting. A repeat assessment may be needed after weeks or months to see how brain function has changed over time.

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Call 412-232-4301 to learn more or make an appointment with a doctor from the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

What Is an Outpatient Neuropsychological Evaluation?

This assessment often takes anywhere from three to five hours but can be shorter or longer. It can happen over one or more days. The clinician will adapt the assessment and length to each person's abilities and needs.

The assessment includes an interview with the clinician, as well as standardized tests. During the interview, the clinician will ask about day-to-day challenges. They will also ask about emotional health, sleep, school/work, and more.

Tests may include repeating words or phrases. They also may include connecting dots, sorting objects, and matching words to pictures.

These tests may involve a pencil and paper, a tablet, or a computer screen. The clinician will adapt the methods to a person's visual, language, and motor skills.

It is important to limit stress, avoid alcohol, and get a good night's sleep the day before an assessment. People shouldn't take certain painkillers and drugs that can slow brain function, like sedatives, the day before an assessment, although they should take regular medications as prescribed. The center will give a list of instructions and answer any questions about how to prepare.

After the assessment, the clinician may schedule a follow-up appointment to discuss the results or send the results to the person's main health care provider or school as specified. The results will highlight the person's strengths and weaknesses. They will also inform therapies and lifestyle changes that can help.

What Is an Inpatient Neuropsychological Evaluation?

A clinician conducts this assessment for someone who is in the hospital. The assessment involves an interview and oral or written cognitive tests. It is often much shorter than an outpatient assessment.

The assessment helps the care team, patient, and family learn about the person's key strengths and weaknesses. For example, a person may have problems with language but not with their memory or decision-making.

The clinician will share the results with the person, family, and care team, as appropriate. They can then arrange services — including occupational therapy, speech therapy, school/work accommodations, or home care — to help address key challenges.

The assessment can also help the person and their family know what to expect after they leave the hospital. For example, it can help families and providers know whether the person can live on their own or what work or school accommodations they need.

What Are Neuropsychological Treatment Options?

Treatment can involve a range of therapies and medications to help with mood and lifestyle changes.

Cognitive remediation

The brain improves with challenges, although the brain needs rest as well. Cognitive remediation therapists help you use the part of your brain harmed by a disease or injury. They also help you balance activities that engage the brain with rest.

For example, a therapist can help teach someone ways to train their brain to recall information. Cognitive remediation could also include practicing speech or gradually increasing conversation with a therapist over time. For someone who has trouble problem-solving, the therapist can help the person break down the steps involved.

Lifestyle adjustments

Healthy eating, exercise, social activities, and proper sleep improve brain function. Your providers can help you add healthy routines to your day-to-day life.


Your therapist can help with tools and support to help you adjust to changes in brain function. These can include apps to help you communicate, reminders, school or workplace changes, meal support, and more. It is important to work with your therapist on which accommodations to use. It may be better at times to challenge the brain rather than find a workaround.


Your doctor may suggest medications if you have problems with anxiety, depression, insomnia, attention, or other mood issues. Treating mood problems can help your thinking and help you engage in therapies.


Some people with a brain injury or disease need special types of psychotherapy or talk therapy. For example, they may need one-on-one therapy rather than group therapy and shorter sessions rather than longer ones.

The provider who performs your assessment can work with your therapist on a plan that works best for you.