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The role of the neuropsychologist

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The majority of clinical psychologists do not have the necessary training or experience to carry out clinical neuropsychology/neuro-rehabilitation assessment or treatment.It is a specialist role requiring further training.

As the Division of Neuropsychology of the BPS in the UK points out:

To qualify as a clinical neuropsychologist requires specific experience and training and the Division of Neuropsychology maintains that the fundamental qualification for clinical neuropsychology is not a qualification in clinical psychology or educational psychology alone, but the additional completion of one of the BPS/DON recognised training courses leading to the Division of Neuropsychology Practitioner Full Membership Qualification in Clinical Neuropsychology.

The clinical role of the neuropsychologist is built upon the findings of researchers in neuropsychology, which provide a growing scientific understanding of the relationship between brain and neuropsychological function. This knowledge forms the basis for highly specialist assessment and rehabilitation of people with brain injury, or other neurological disease.

Neuropsychologists work with people of all ages with neurological problems, which might include traumatic brain injury, stroke, toxic and metabolic disorders, tumours and neuro-degenerative diseases.

  • Assessment

Specialist skills are required in the assessment of neurological patients. This involves proficiency in the administration of a wide variety of neuropsychological tests

  • Acute treatment

The importance of the contribution of clinical neuropsychologists has been recognised in recent UK Health Service guidance eg,

  • NICE Guidelines on Epilepsy,
  • NSF for long term conditions,
  • NICE Guidelines on Paediatric Oncology,
  • NSF exemplars for Acquired Brain Injury in Adults and Children

Here, clinical neuropsychologists are specifically recommended as team members, recognising their unique role in diagnosis and rehabilitation of serious and disabling neurological conditions.

Treatment and rehabilitation encompasses a broad range of specialist behavioural and cognitive interventions not only for the client, but also for their family and carers.

In acute settings neuropsychologists work alongside neurosurgeons and neurologists and allied disciplines, usually in a regional neurosciences centre. They are concerned with the early effects of trauma, neurosurgery and neurological disease.

In rehabilitation centres they provide post-acute assessment, training and support for people who have sustained brain injury, or who have other neurological problems. A limited number of neuropsychologists work in community supporting those who have returned home.

In all these settings the neuropsychologist will play a central role in the multidisciplinary team which aim to maximise recovery, minimise disability, and prepare the client for return to the community or to a residential placement.

*Consultation Neuropsychologists have an important role consulting to other memeers of the multidisciplinary team, providing them with important information from the psychological perspective Experienced neuropsychologists can also act as expert witnesses for the Courts,

  • Research

Research is an important aspect of neuropsychological practice.

  • Management resposibilities

Neuropsychologists are also to be commonly found in the management of rehabilitation facilities, and in individual case management. Leadership of multidisciplinary rehabilitation teams is frequently part of their clinical role.

See also

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