Monday 20th October 2014,
The Liz Army

Neuropsychological testing

Liz August 18, 2013 Brain Cancer Blog, Surviving 9 Comments
Neuropsychological evaluation report

Last week I went to see a new doctor. During the six-hour appointment I got to draw pictures, describe the meaning of words, memorize stories, solve simple and complex math calculations, and play computer games, among other things.

I was seeing a neuropsychologist.

WebMD says neuropsychological testing can help doctors find out how damage to your brain may be affecting your ability to reason, concentrate, solve problems, or remember. A doctor may suggest this type of testing if you have a disease that can damage the brain, such as Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, dementia, Parkinson’s or a brain tumor.

In my case, I was sent to a neuropsychologist because I have never been to one–which is odd, because most brain tumor patients end up seeing a neuropsych within their first year. The appointment captured a baseline of how my brain is functioning now to use as a baseline, and compare to my brain in the future should my tumor start growing again.

I asked my doctor if I could go to a neuropsych because I want to “make sure” I am OK. I have a weird worry that I am going to get deep in my career only to find out one day that all along I was not remembering anything people told me. I bet this makes me sound like a hypochondriac, but I want to be sure.

When I receive the results of the evaluation I will report back.

I am pretty transparent, but I won’t mention anything embarrassing, like, “Liz has horrible math skills–she counts on her fingers.” Because that is actually true. Oh wait, I just told you.

Have any of you been through neuropsychological testing? What did you learn about your brain?

Attention! I received the results of my neuropsychological testing in October 2013. While I did find the results insightful and interesting, I  made the decision to not share these publicly.

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  • Mark R. Green

    Liz love your writing – gives me hope – makes me smile – and also helps as we, the brain tumor community, wend our way through the rabbit hole of this craziness – oh and no I have not had such testing save for some which alludes to identifying cognitive deficit- be well and keep on keepin’ on

  • Carol de Macedo

    May this serve as an alert to those who are now entering this elite group: before any initial surgery, ask about baseline testing! Love your posts and great sense of humor, Liz!

  • Mel

    My daughter hasn’t had a neuro psych test and she’s over 5 yrs post GBM dx & treatment. However, she changed her uni degree after her experience and is in final year of psych degree & wants to go onto study neuro psych post grad.

  • Jannie

    Very interesting! You’re making me want to see one. I was diagnosed with a brain tumor 5 years ago and never even heard of a neuropsychologist. I see Mady at Redwood City and will definitely have to ask her about. Thanks Liz!!

  • Qais Arsala

    i went in for a grueling 6 hour marathon for neuro psch testing.. it was a complete waste of time because my scores were so low that they thought i was faking it.. so sad, but i did my best and was honest

    • insaf adelyah

      Qais, we always pray for your recovery. Sorry for this belated message, but been incommunicado. AllahAfeez! An old e-mail acquaintance from Detroit. Remember?

  • Chloe

    I had my brain tumor removed about 19 months ago, and I’m just about to enter my 4th year in a PhD program — I’ll (eventually) be a pediatric neuropsychologist. I never went through the testing process myself (definitely wish I had gotten a baseline before surgery), but I’m one of the folks who sits on the other side of the table and administers those hours-long tests now! I hope you had a good, albeit likely exhausting, experience with the testing and that your results give you insight and clarity. Neuropsych is a pretty amazing field.

    I adore your blog!

  • SDAWG

    I’m interested to hear what they recommend. After the MD Anderson peeps mentioned the neuropsych test during one of the BTSM chats, I have been looking forward to doing an eval of my own noggin. I’ve already done speech therapy and keep doing the homework every day, even though I’ve “graduated.” It will be interesting to hear what else they recommend and then compare it to you and other folks.

    And for heck sake, why isn’t the baseline BEFORE surgery/radiation/chemo standard operating procedure? How is this such an undercover operation? It sounds cool.

  • Sarah

    I am currently part of a neuro-cog clinical study on post radiation brain tumor patients. My baseline testing was done post-surgeries but Pre-radiation. I was tested directly after radiation, three months after, six months after, and then one year out. I will continue to be tested annually for five years. My husband is part of the “normal brain” group for this study. I’ve learned that while I had some cognitive issues immediately post radiation, a year later I am either at or above my baseline in almost every categories. I even scored off the charts fin my verbal memory but my verbal fluency is still lacking.