Burke Rehabilitation Hospital has long recognized that coping with a neurological illness or injury is difficult for patients and families. Under the direction of Mark Herceg, Ph.D., Burke’s clinical neuropsychologists and neurorehabilitation fellows are specialists in evaluating and treating the brain-behavior relationship. They work with patients who have cognitive impairments, such as personality changes, brought on by brain injury or stroke.
Clinical neuropsychology is a specialty within psychology that focuses on the relationship between the central nervous system and behavior. It is based on the scientific study of human cognition (i.e., thinking), emotion and behavior as it relates to normal and abnormal brain functioning. A clinical neuropsychologist has a doctoral degree in psychology, with at least two years of advanced training and experience in the science and practice of neuropsychology.
Neuropsychological assessment and intervention may be done in an inpatient or outpatient setting. In the inpatient setting, assessments and treatment are provided to patients with brain injuries or stroke. These patients often experience changes in thinking, concentration, memory, organization, sequencing, and carrying out basic tasks. Such changes are often disruptive to individuals and their families. Weekly education and support groups focus on coping and adjusting to stroke or brain injury, education, about stroke and brain injury and cognitive rehabilitation education. Brief, cognitive-behavioral and individual psychotherapy can be provided on a case-by-case basis.
The results of the examination serve a variety of purposes, depending on the individual situation. These purposes include:
- Diagnosing and differentiating causes of cognitive and/or emotional complaints.
- Assessing cognitive decline or improvement.
- Establishing a “baseline” to monitor changes in neuropsychological functioning over time or following treatment.
- Objectively measuring neuropsychological strengths and weaknesses.
- Planning intervention or rehabilitation.
- Determining capacity to return to work or make important decisions.Formulating an individual course of cognitive rehabilitation
- Restoring functions that can be restored and learning to compensate for functions that cannot, through cognitive rehabilitation, or “physical therapy for the brain.”