Can a neuropsychologist diagnose dementia? (See here!)

In this brief guide we are going to answer the question ‘’Can a neuropsychologist diagnose dementia?’’  We will determine if neuropsychologists are capable of dealing with degenerative disorders.

Can a neuropsychologist diagnose dementia?

Yes, a neuropsychologist can diagnose dementia. A neuropsychologist is a specialist qualified in brain disease evaluation, detection, and treatment. The neuropsychological evaluations are essentials to known if exists nervous system disorders in patients

Neuropsychology is defined as a scientific discipline that is dedicated to understand how the brain works and the relationship between the thoughts and behaviors in patients with acquired brain damage, neurodegenerative, or neurodevelopmental disorders.

Neuropsychologists have a doctorate degree in psychology and training in neuropsychology. They regularly work in research or clinical settings.

There are many mental disorders that don’t show deformity or other types of obvious brain disorders so, if other doctors can’t identify the cause of these symptoms, a neuropsychologist can help determine an exact diagnosis.

However, many mental disorders can and do originate with brain damage or other neurological disorders, If this is suspected, a neuropsychologist will perform tests to determine what the problem may be. 

With neuropsychological evaluation, we can determine if nervous system disorder is for loss of capacities associated with healthy aging, or in contrast if it’s a cognitive deterioration.

What’s a Neuropsychologist?

A clinical neuropsychologist is a psychologist who specializes in nervous system disorders. Neurophysiology is a career dedicated to understanding how the brain and behavior work on humans.

Neuropsychologists usually work in clinics and hospitals or in research units helping people with neurological disorders or perform research to increase the understanding of illness and effective treatment options for patients suffering brain or nervous system disorders, such as dementia, multiple sclerosis, autism, brain cancer, and epilepsy.

Clinical Neuropsychology serves people across entire ages (infants, adolescence, adults, and older adults). A clinical neuropsychologist often focuses on the diagnosis, monitoring, and managing diseases rather than curative treatment to improve lifestyle in people with brain disease.

What Do Neurophysiologists Do?

Neuropsychology is a specialty in charge of evaluating and treating people with different types of nervous system disorders. 

Symptoms that may call for a neuropsychologist can include; nervous system dysfunction, learning difficulties, mood disturbances, involuntary movements, and memory difficulties.

Neuropsychological evaluations are realized to support understanding how the different areas and systems of the brain are working in a patient. 

Neuropsychological tests evaluate attention, executive functions (such as planning, abstraction, and conceptualization), IQ, speech (receptive, expressive, and pragmatic), perception, reading, writing, memory, sensorimotor functions, reasoning, motivation, mood state and emotion, quality of life, and personality styles.

Neuropsychologists evaluations often include a review of the patient’s medical history, an interview with the patient as well as a family member, close friend, or caregiver, and tests that measure the patient’s abilities and mood.

Neuropsychologists work closely with other doctors as neurologists.

If a neurologist can’t identify the cause of a condition, a neuropsychologist can contribute to determining a diagnosis. If a diagnosis is already known, an assessment by a neuropsychologist can still be helpful because a neuropsychologist can help determine what impairments a patient might have and how severe they are.

How long does a neuropsychological evaluation take?

An exhaustive evaluation generally takes between two and five hours to complete, usually done in several sessions on different days.

There are several parts to a comprehensive evaluation. Specifics may vary based on the original reason for a referral or request for an evaluation. Follow-up evaluations can take less time. However, there are evaluations that can take more than eight hours. 

The time that can take a neuropsychologist evaluation is depending on the complexity of the issues to be addressed by the evaluation and the patient’s condition.

O que é a Neuropsicologia, para que serve e quando procurá-la

What happens after testing is completed?

Once all evaluations have been completed the neuropsychologist also will organize a results feedback session to discuss the results as well as diagnostic impressions and associated recommendations with the patient, family and or carer and answer any questions or concerns. 

Why has a neuropsychological evaluation been recommended?

A neuropsychological evaluation is helpful to detect or monitor any in nervous system dysfunction. Neuropsychologist’s evaluations are useful to provide a baseline against that can be compared with subsequent evaluations.

Neuropsychological evaluations are essential to document patterns of fortitude and deficiency among cognitive and behavioral functions.

So, neuropsychological test results are useful to help understand the cause of problems with thinking and understanding, assist in the differential diagnosis, and assist with evaluation before and after functional neurosurgical procedures.

Your trusted healthcare provider can use the results of the neuropsychological examination along with the results of other tests such as brain scans, EEGs, and blood tests to arrive at a diagnosis that can help to guide your healthcare.

In case of a pre-existing disease, your healthcare provider may order neuropsychological tests. Thereby your doctors can decide whether your functioning has declined because of the illness process or document whether your functioning has worsened or improved as a result of a treatment.

How is Neurophysiologist Salary?

The neuropsychologists salary depends on factors like; years of experience and location. A neuropsychologist can earn over 45.000$ and 103.000$ per year in the USA.

The experience level has a big impact on total Neuropsychologists’ compensation. An entry level neuropsychologist (1-3 years of experience) earns over $48,678 and $57,704 . On the other hand, a senior level neurophysiologist (4-8 years of experience) earns over $83,380 and $86,715. 

An experienced Neuropsychologist with 10-19 years of experience earns over $92,264 and $1.000. Neuropsychologists with 20+ years’ experience have a total salary of $114,783.

Based by statistics locations the highest salaries for Neuropsychologist across the United States are in;

  • CALIFORNIA $325,000 
  • FLORIDA $132.000
  • TEXAS $131.000
  • NEW JERSEY $121.000
  • MASSACHUSETTS $115.000
  • VIRGINIA $112.000
  • CONNECTICUT $109.000
  • OREGON $103.000
  • GEORGIA $103.000
  • NORTH CAROLINA $114.000
  • NEW YORK $90.000

What Are the Differences Between Psychology and Neuropsychology?

According to the American Psychological Association. Psychology is a multifaceted discipline and includes many sub-fields of study such areas as human development, sports, health, clinical, social behavior and cognitive processes. 

Neuropsychology is a subspecialty of clinical psychology and involves the study of the relationship between the brain and behavior.  

The difference is in the areas that both are responsible for. 

In fact, neuropsychology deals with disorders of the cognitive functions, neurological and psychiatric diseases, all of which are referred to by the professional in psychiatry; while psychology deals with mental and emotional disorders and their adaptation and management with the environment.

What is dementia?

Dementia makes reference to the loss of cognitive functioning characterized by affecting memory, language skills, visual perception, problem-solving, self-management, and the ability to focus and pay attention. 

Dementia is not a specific disease, instead, the word ‘dementia’ describes a set of symptoms that include; forgetfulness, limited social skills, and reasoning.

Dementia is caused by the loss of nerve cells in the brain as a result of the disease. 

Dementia is a progressive condition, meaning that symptoms will get worse over time. These changes are often small to start with, but with passing time dementia becomes severe enough to affect daily life.

Dementia Stages: Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms

Types of dementia

There are many types of dementia, however. the most common are:

  • Alzheimer disease
  • Vascular dementia
  • Frontotemporal disorders
  • Lewy body dementia

Is there a cure for dementia?

No, there is no cure for dementia, however, scientists and researchers keep working hard to find one. Because dementia is caused by different diseases it is unlikely that there will be a single cure for it and at the same time that becomes very hard to find one for its multiple causes and symptoms.

Although no existing cure, there are support and treatments that are available for help with symptoms and managing daily life as normal as possible.  

Treatment for dementia will depend on its cause. A doctor might prescribe medications to treat diverse symptoms or conditions, such as depression, sleep disturbances, hallucinations, Parkinson, or agitation.

Alternative treatments that can help too with symptoms of dementia include: 

  • Cognitive stimulation, which might involve doing word puzzles or discussing current affairs
  • Life story work, sharing memories and experiences with a carer or nurse to create a ‘life story book’
  • Keeping as active as possible (physically, mentally, and socially) which can boost memory and self-esteem, and help avoid depression.

Nevertheless, there are cases like Alzheimer’s disease that there is no cure or treatment to slow or stop its progress. But there are drug treatments that can improve symptoms temporarily.

Which doctor should I see for dementia?

Only a full medical evaluation conducted by a licensed doctor can determine if symptoms are related to dementia. There are different specialists in charge of dementia’s diagnosis include: Geriatricians, Geriatric Psychiatrists, Neurologists, and Neuropsychologists.  

FAQS: Can a neuropsychologist diagnose dementia?

Can a brain scan diagnose dementia?

Yes, once the simpler tests have ruled out other problems brain scans are often used for diagnosing dementia. Brain scans can identify changes in the brain’s structure and function. Also brain scans can find strokes, tumors, and other problems that can cause dementia.

What age does dementia usually start? 

Dementia usually appears in advanced ages. The risk of developing this disease increases as a person ages. Most types of dementia are rare in people younger than 60 years old. However, dementia can also affect younger people.

Is forgetting words a sign of dementia?

Yes, forgetting common words while speaking is a sign of dementia. 
Memory loss is a common and severe sign. All of us have ever had difficulty remembering a word or someone’s name, this doesn’t mean they are suffering from dementia. However, a person diagnosed with dementia has this symptom. You will find these symptoms increasingly frequent and severe.

How does dementia start?

Dementia usually starts with small things such as; forget where you left your car’s key or difficulties concentrating, but with the passing of time, they are severe enough to affect their day-to-day life.

Do people with dementia know they have it?

In the early stages of dementia many can recognize something is wrong, and will be fairly independent and should be able to do most things with a little help.  
Nevertheless this disease progressively will destroy brain cells, so over time many of they won’t be able to recognize if something is wrong or not.

In this brief guide we answered the question ‘’Can a neuropsychologist diagnose dementia?’’  We determined if neuropsychologists are capable of dealing with degenerative disorders. Yes, they can.

If you have any questions or comments please let us know.

References

CareerExplorer. (2017, April 11). What does a neuropsychologist do? Retrieved September 8, 2020 

Clinical Neuropsychology. (2020). Clinical Neuropsychology. Retrieved September 18, 2020

Neuropsychological Assessment. (2020). Retrieved September 18, 2020, from Cleveland 

Spader, C. (2020, January 22). Clinical Neurophysiologist: Your Expert in Nervous System Disorders. Retrieved September 18, 2020, from Healthgrades 

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