Your Quality of Life is Important

Research

Jeri Morris, Ph.D., is extensively involved in studying issues related to brain injury, PTSD, cognitive rehabilitation, and other areas of neuropsychology.

Your Quality of Life is Important

Your Quality of Life is Important

Dr. Morris has been in clinical practice for nearly 30 years, focusing on evaluating and treating those with neurological disorders and disabilities.

Read More About Dr. Morris' Background

Every Brain Injury is Unique

Every Brain Injury is Unique

So your treatment should be too. Dr. Morris has successfully diagnosed thousands of people — each situation as unique as the person who was living it.

What is Neuropsychology?

When the brain suffers injury or impairment, the lives of the individual and all his or her loved ones are significantly affected.

Today we have a much better understanding of the relationships between medical, neurological, and psychological problems.

Neuropsychology is the science of the relationship between brain function and  behavior. It is a specialty area within Clinical Psychology, and it includes evaluating, diagnosing, and treating disorders of the central nervous system — usually the brain and the spinal cord.  By evaluating brain functions and by focusing on changes in thinking, emotion, and behavior, a Clinical Neuropsychologist can help individuals, family members, and treatment teams to understand and create treatment plans, and achieve results that neither neurology nor psychology alone can achieve.

Clinical neuropsychologists receive training as clinical psychologists, and they also have specialty training in diagnosing the various complex disorders that affect the brain. Some neuropsychologists, such as Dr. Morris, also treat patients to help them adjust to the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes they experience as the result of a brain injury or disorder.

Jeri Morris, Ph.D., has been practicing neuropsychology for 26 years, and is highly respected as a researcher and therapist (read her full professional credentials here). If you or a loved one is suffering from brain injury or impairment, a consultation with Dr. Morris may lead to greater understanding and better decision-making for all of you.

neuropsychology is study of the brain


What Does a Clinical Neuropsychologist Do?

The brain can be impaired by a variety of things, from serious injury, to illness and infection, to genetics. These impairments can show up in many ways, including behavioral problems, delayed development, memory issues, and social challenges. In many cases, these problems need to be treated both psychologically and physically in order to achieve the best results. Clinical neuropsychologists are licensed psychologists who have gone on to acquire additional education and licensing in how behavior and abilities are influenced by physical brain health.

The clinical neuropsychologist evaluates brain function through testing the patient’s memory and thinking skills, and then uses the information gained in the tests to create a highly detailed assessment of the patient’s brain function. While it is possible for individuals from other professions, such as clinical and school psychologists, to administer the various tests a clinical neuropsychologist uses, administering the tests simply isn’t enough. A clinical neuropsychologist is highly trained in interpreting the results of those tests, including a thorough understanding of brain anatomy, medical conditions, and neurological conditions that affect behavior and thinking.

That information is used to make recommendations to other medical providers and therapists for the patient’s health care treatments. Neurologists, neurosurgeons, epileptologists, psychiatrists, and clinicians practicing in rehabilitation settings routinely consult with Neuropsychology for both diagnostic evaluations and long-term care.

What Conditions are Assessed with Neuropsychology?

While many different conditions are assessed and diagnosed using Neuropsychology, some of the most common include:

  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Concussion
  • Attention Deficit Disorders
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Down Syndrome and other Chromosome Abnormalities
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Tumors and other “space occupying” lesions
  • Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of Dementia
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders
  • Genetic Disorders
  • Cerebral Vascular Accidents
  • Genetic Disorders
  • Hypoxic/Anoxic Conditions

 


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What is a Neuropsychological Assessment?

The goal of a neuropsychology assessment is to obtain a comprehensive understanding of an individual’s cognitive capabilities and emotional function. This information is used to make a diagnosis, and to work with other care providers to provide optimal medical treatment, to obtain services for the patient, to determine whether or not the patient is ready to return to work, and to help make important decisions about the individual’s ability to continue to live independently, to drive, or to manage important life tasks such as financial and personal affairs.

The clinical neuropsychologist will spend time with the patient evaluating the following things:

  • General intellect, and the ability to concentrate
  • Problem-solving, reasoning, and planning skills
  • Mood, emotional development, and personality development
  • Memory and the ability to learn new information
  • Social skill development
  • Language and reading skills
  • The ability to tell where objects are in space, perceive objects in the environment, and mentally imagine an object that is not present
  • Motor skills and sensory skills

Depending on the reason for the evaluation and what the patient is experiencing, the clinical neuropsychologist may spend more time evaluating some of these things than others.


How Does it Work?

A neuropsychological assessment includes both an extensive interview and some testing. The clinical neuropsychologist is highly trained in asking the right questions and testing specific behaviors, and the answers and test results are used to develop a diagnosis.

With Dr. Morris, you will discuss your symptoms, medical history and medications, and how things are going in your life. You will take a variety of tests, some with pencil and some on the computer. These aren’t tests like in school, where getting a good grade is the goal. These are tests designed to help the neuropsychologist identify issues that are causing you problems, so there’s no pass/fail – only good information for the clinical neuropsychologist to use in making a diagnosis.

The amount of time you will spend in your assessment depends on your symptoms and concerns. Most people find the assessment process very interesting, and it’s comforting to know that the information gained in the process will be used to help you get better care and treatment. 

Why Was I Referred for Assessment?

In most cases, patients are referred for clinical neuropsychological testing when the patient or doctor observe changes in memory or thinking ability. Because these changes could be medical, neurological, genetic, or psychological, the help of a clinical neuropsychologist is needed to isolate the cause.  In other cases, parents are referred to clinical neuropsychologists to assess a child’s behavioral, learning, social, or mood issues in order to create an effective treatment plan.

Extensive study in the area of brain science has led to better understanding of how the brain’s functioning is often a complex relationship between medical, psychological, and neurological processes. The clinical neuropsychologist serves as your bridge between psychology and medicine, ensuring that your diagnosis and treatment are as holistic and effective as possible.  


How are the Results Used?

The first way the results are used is to identify what is at the heart of your problem.  Think about when you get a cough and the sniffles — it’s hard to know if you have a cold, the flu, or allergies. The same thing is true with brain illnesses. A good example is memory loss: a person could lose memory skills for a variety of reasons, from infection to stroke to normal aging to Alzheimers. And those conditions must be treated in very different ways!

The clinical neuropsychologist is skilled in using your test results to get to a proper diagnosis. She will also compare your test results to the test results of other people who share similarities with your situation. This comparison is important, because it adds another layer of information which makes the diagnosis even more specific.

Once the assessment has been completed, Dr. Morris will share the results with you or your other treatment team members, which will help them in providing more effective medical care, managing prescriptions, and referring you to specialists if necessary. In addition, the clinical neuropsychologist may recommend psychological counseling.

  • Proper diagnosis of a child or adolescent’s unique set of cognitive strengths and weaknesses can lead to more effective treatment, school accommodations, and can improve communication with teachers and school administrators.
  • Measuring progress in regaining cognitive skills following an injury to the brain can lead to insights regarding additional or alternative therapies to provide.
  • Identifying cognitive impacts due to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obstructive sleep apnea, or chemotherapy can lead to better management of those conditions.
  • Early identification of whether cognitive changes in an older adult are mild cognitive impairment or one of several dementia syndromes can lead to more effective early treatment and better planning.
  • Certain progressive diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and various dementia syndromes, can be better managed by properly staging cognitive status as the disease advances.
  • Pre-and-post operative assessment of patients with brain tumors, intractable seizures, and hydrocephalus can lead to more effective treatment and possibly better long-term prognosis.

If you, or a member of your family, has experienced an injury, is not developing and thriving, is facing a major surgery, or appears to have lost some of their memory or cognitive ability, as your doctor about getting an evaluation from a clinical neuropsychologist. While it is certainly possible for you to make an appointment, it is very useful (and most common) for the clinical neuropsychologist and medical care-giver to work together on a treatment plan.