Neuropsychology and Medical Psychology



Neuropsychology is a branch of psychology that studies the relationship between the brain and behavior. It is based upon research demonstrating the changes in brain structure and/or chemistry that can alter brain functioning in regular and predictable ways. These changes can be due to injury, disease, or normal lifecycle processes, and can affect a number of cognitive areas including attention, memory, problem solving, thought organization, intelligence, language and motor abilities.

Physicians from a variety of specialties often refer their patients for a neuropsychological evaluation to help them better understand how a particular medical or neurological condition may or may not be impacting a person’s ability to think, remember, and process information.  Emotional, behavioral, and motivational functioning are also assessed as many medical and neurological conditions affect these areas in ways that impact daily life.  Neuropsychological evaluations may also be used to assess a person’s ability to return to work or school after a brain injury, stroke, or other neurological illness.

At Daniel Drake Center for Post-Acute Care, a neuropsychologist will examine the individual’s performances in these areas using both clinical interview and standardized tests.  This comprehensive evaluation usually takes between three and four hours.

After the tests are scored and the results are interpreted, Daniel Drake Center neuropsychologist will meet with the patient and family to provide detailed feedback about their cognitive and emotional strengths and weaknesses. The neuropsychologist may also make recommendations about compensation strategies; supervision or assistance needed to function safely; work and educational plans; referral to support groups, or make other helpful suggestions.

Medical Psychology

Medical Psychology is a branch of psychology that involves the relationship between general medical conditions and a person’s emotional and behavioral functioning.  It is based on research that indicates that acute and chronic medical conditions such as serious or multiple injuries, traumatic brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, chronic pain, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer can cause emotional difficulties such as depression, anxiety, and irritability that are severe enough to interfere with recovery and daily functioning.  Additionally, research shows that clinical depression, anxiety, and behavioral issues such as difficulty following medical treatment regimens or difficulty making needed lifestyle changes (for example:  stopping smoking, increasing exercise, losing weight) can seriously interfere with recovery from injury and management of chronic medical conditions.  Medical psychologists use psychotherapy and coping skills training to reduce emotional distress and improve coping with health problems and lifestyle changes, thereby improving overall health and maximize good functioning in everyday life.

Many primary care physicians as well as specialists often refer their patients for medical psychology services at Daniel Drake Center if they are concerned that their patient is experiencing difficulty coping with medical issues, or if emotional distress or difficulty coping is complicating recovery or management of their medical condition.  Outpatient medical psychology services at Daniel Drake Center are available for adults with issues who need assistance learning coping skills to reduce emotional distress associated with or affecting that medical condition.  Specialty services include psychological pain management training skills, pre-surgical evaluations for patients who are being considered for surgical treatment of chronic back pain, and adjustment to life after a spinal cord injury, stroke, traumatic brain injury, amputation, or other life-altering medical condition.

For more information about outpatient Neuropsychology and Medical Psychology Services offered at Daniel Drake Center, please call UC Health’s Central Scheduling Department at (513) 475-8730.