Why do I need to see a neuropsychologist?
A neuropsychologist is a specialist psychologist who is interested in changes in cognition, behaviour and emotions that can be seen after various changes or injuries to the brain. Symptoms can range from very mild to more severe, and the effects of a brain injury vary widely from person to person. What we do know is that the outcome will depend on a number of factors such as:
- which part of the brain was injured
- post-surgical complications
- the age of the child
- pre-existing conditions
- the type of treatment the patient receives
- the stage of learning and development the child had reached prior to injury.
Children who undergo oncology treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery can experience changes including:
- Behavioural/emotional – they may become impulsive, more easily upset, have difficulty getting along with their peers
- Physical – changes to their muscles, use of hands and feet, tiredness
- Sensory – vision, hearing, balance, taste and sensory neglect
- Cognition – decreased speed of thinking, poor memory, inattention, learning difficulties, decreased planning and organisation and ongoing fatigue.
Children often require long stays in hospital which can increase a child’s risk of falling behind their peers academically. Specifics of how each child may be impacted by their brain injury may not be fully understood initially therefore it is important for them to be regularly monitored to ensure they are progressing in line with their capabilities. Ongoing communication between family, the oncology or rehabilitation team and education staff should occur throughout all the years of schooling.
Neuropsychologists also work closely with other allied health staff (e.g. Speech Pathologist, Occupational Therapists) to develop a holistic understanding of your child’s abilities.
How can a neuropsychologist help your child?
A neuropsychologist can help with:
- documenting cognitive strengths and weaknesses and providing recommendations to compensate for any identified difficulties at school and home.
- assisting with decision making regarding school placement or educational program
- referrals to services within the community to support well-being if required
- provide support for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) applications.
What does the assessment involve?
- An interview will initially be conducted and questions will be asked regarding educational, developmental and medical history.
- The next part involves the young person answering questions, drawing pictures, completing puzzles, reading, spelling, writing, doing math problems and remembering new information.
- The neuropsychology assessment generally takes approximately four hours. The assessment will include several sessions, which may be completed on one day or over several days. A feedback session will be scheduled to discuss the results.
When will we see the neuropsychologist?
If you have concerns with your child’s thinking skills or learning, let your oncology team know so they can make a referral to see a neuropsychologist at the Queensland Children’s Hospital.
Your Neuropsychologist is:
Oncology Services Group
Level 12B, Queensland Children’s Hospital
501 Stanley Street
South Brisbane 4101
t: 07 3068 5456