Diagnosing a Cognitive Impairment

Your physician will probably be the first person you'll discuss your symptoms with. They will refer you to a specialist who conducts tests to diagnose your condition. Typically, you will be referred to a psychologist or a neuropsychologist.

A neuropsychological evaluation is a reliable procedure specifically designed to assess cognitive functioning. It uses standardized tests to evaluate areas such as general intellectual ability, academic achievement, memory, language, spatial/perceptual abilities, conceptual reasoning, and emotional functioning.

There are a number of areas that such an evaluation will assess, including language, various types of memory, and visual skills. Tests that may be used include the Halstead- Reitan, Wechsler Scales, and the Luria Nebraska. The length of the test battery and the cost will vary depending on the extent of your symptoms.

If you suspect a cognitive impairment, it can be hard to take the step of seeking help. But remember, with proper diagnosis and intervention, you might be better able to manage your impairment. There are medical professionals, memory specialists, and/or medications to assist you. Don't let an undiagnosed cognitive impairment jeopardize your health, your relationships, your mobility, or your success at school or work.

Definitions Associated with Cognitive Impairment

Agnosia: Ability to see and feel objects, with an inability to associate them with their usual function or roles.

Alexia: Loss of the ability to comprehend written words.

Amnesia: Total or partial inability to recall recent or remote experiences.

Anomia: Loss of the ability to recall or say the names of objects.

Aphasia: Loss of ability to use language due to an injury to the language area of the brain. Damage by stroke, tumor, head injury, or infection may interfere with language function.

Apraxia: Inability to perform tasks that require remembering patterns or sequences of movement.

Broca's aphasia: Ability to grasp the meaning of words and knowing how you want to respond, but having trouble saying the words.

Dysarthria: Inability to properly articulate words.

Korsakoff's amnesia: A condition where immediate memory is retained, but memory for recent and relatively long-term events is lost. Remote memory may survive.

Wernicke's aphasia: A condition resulting in sentences coming out as confused strings of words (word salad).


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