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Neuropsychologists are doctors that are specially trained to assess and treat conditions that relate to the normal functioning of the nervous system, specifically the brain. Neuropsychologists have a deeper understanding than other psychologists of neurological conditions and diseases. Neuropsychologists often treat patients with brain injuries from trauma accidents.
Neuropsychology is a specialty field of psychology that requires many years of educational requirements. Students who want to be neuropsychologists must earn an undergraduate degree in a field of science, and go on to a graduate school and earn a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree in neuropsychology.
In the doctorate program, students will study brain function and anatomy along with neurological injuries and diseases. Students will also complete an internship in neuropsychology as a part of their doctorate studies.
During their studies, doctors can also choose to subspecialize in pediatric neuropsychology, the only subspecialty recognized by the American Board of Professional Psychology.
Doctors must have a medical license to practice medicine in any state. Medical licenses are controlled by individual states so requirements will vary across the country. In addition to the state medical license, neuropsychologists must pass the national test, the Examination for the Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP).
While neuropsychologists can begin practicing with a state license, they can also choose to earn an additional qualification of a board certification to demonstrate clinical skill in their field. Most employers show preference to neuropsychologists with board certifications.
Neuropsychologists are board certified by the American Board of Professional Psychology. Board certification requires doctors to meet certain professional standards and to pass lengthy written and oral examinations.
Where Neuropsychologists Work
Neuropsychologists often work as a part of a larger care team for patients providing diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation. Neuropsychologists may work in hospitals and clinical settings treating patients, in laboratories studying the effects of prescription drugs on patients’ brains, or in academic settings.
How Neuropsychologists Help People
Neuropsychologists are doctors with specialty training in brain-behavior relationships. These doctors diagnose, assess, treat, and rehabilitate patients with developmental, neurological, and psychiatric conditions. Neuropsychologists differ from other psychologists because neuropsychologists have a deeper understanding of neurological anatomy and disease.
Neuropsychologists treat conditions like:
- Brain tumors
- Brain injury or damage from trauma
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Alzheimer’s and dementia
- Genetic disorders
- Learning disorders like dyslexia
- Exposure to chemicals, poisons, or other toxins
- Personality changes
- Language disorder
Neuropsychologists will assess the extent of brain damage or injury by completing a full physical examination of the patient along with a full family and personal history. The neuropsychologist will assess the patient’s cognitive, behavioral, motor, and linguistic functioning by performing the necessary diagnostic tests. Using this information in conjunction with information from other members of the patient’s care team, neuropsychologists will make a diagnosis and treatment plan.
According to the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology, services provided by neuropsychologists include:
Neuropsychological assessment to determine a diagnosis and treatment plan, typically they will use diagnostic tests like psychological assessments or imaging tests like MRIs
Counseling to help patients understand the condition and its effect on the patient
Consultation with other members of the patient’s care team or other specialty doctors
Intervention, treatment, or prevention of a psychological problem
Clinically-relevant research to provide the best treatment to the patient
Other activities like teaching and training new doctors
Neuropsychologists often help patients determine when they can return to their daily routine after traumatic brain injuries.
Medical Negligence and Neuropsychologists
Neuropsychologists have the important task of caring for a patient’s brain. Negligent mistakes in care can result in serious injuries to the patient.
Over 2 million people suffer a brain injury every year. Traumatic brain injuries can be the result of a car accident, a sports injury, a fall, or a number of other causes of blunt force to the head.
Brain injuries have serious symptoms, whether they result from blunt force, diseases like stroke or epilepsy, or from exposure to toxins. Symptoms of a brain injury include personality changes, loss of vision, taste, or smell, cognitive and learning defects, paralysis, and seizures. They can also result in more serious symptoms like bleeding, confusion, slurred speech, pupil changes, and convulsions.
Patients suffering these symptoms who do not receive proper treatment will worsen in condition. Neuropsychologists should be able to recognize symptoms of a brain injury and order the necessary diagnostic tests.
Diagnosis and medication errors are also common in neuropsychology malpractice.
Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Injuries to and diseases of the brain must be treated in a timely manner to give the patient the best chance of a full recovery. Patients should be able to expect that their doctors have the necessary training and knowledge to properly diagnose and treat neuropsychological disorders.
Neuropsychology is a complex field of medicine, making it more difficult to prove malpractice. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury while under the care of a neuropsychologist, you need an experienced medical malpractice attorney who understands the intricacies of the case.
The attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian have proven success in protecting malpractice victims across Maryland. Call our offices today at (800) 529-6162 to schedule a free consultation and to begin your case.