Neuropsychology - For Clinicians

Clinical Neuropsychology is concerned with the assessment and rehabilitation / treatment of cognitive, emotional and behavioural difficulties occurring within the context of identified or suspected brain damage or neurological disease. The service provided is a neuropsychological one, i.e. medical responsibility for the care of the patient remains with their medical care provider.

Clinical Neuropsychologists at North Bristol NHS Trust are engaged along the entire pathway of care from acute neurosciences through to the community. They work with a number of specialist MDTs / services and see adult patients (18+) with a range of neurological aetiologies for their difficulties:

  • brain injury
  • stroke
  • encephalitis
  • brain tumours
  • epilepsy
  • neurodegenerative diseases
  • genetic and metabolic conditions affecting the central nervous system 

Clinical Neuropsychology services can be accessed from primary care upon referral to the Department of Neuropsychology, Rosa Burden Centre, Donal Early Way, Southmead Hospital, Bristol, BS10 5NB. Telephone for enquiries: 0117 414 0454.

Additional Clinical Neuropsychology services are available as part of the comprehensive brain injury rehabilitation services provided by the Frenchay Centre for Brain Injury Rehabilitation (inpatient rehabilitation) and the Head Injury Therapy Unit (community rehabilitation).

Other Clinical Neuropsychology services are offered within specialist teams including:

  • stroke
  • epilepsy surgery
  • multiple sclerosis
  • cognitive disorders (dementia) clinic.

Services for children with neuropsychological difficulties are provided by the Department of Paediatric Neuropsychology, Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust.

A neuropsychological assessment

A neuropsychological assessment provides an objective way of characterising cognitive, emotional and behavioural symptoms. This process typically involves completing a number of different cognitive tasks and questionnaires. The process is not painful or unpleasant but may take a number of hours.

Typically a neuropsychological assessment might involve assessment of:

  • Attention and concentration
  • Verbal intellectual skills
  • Visuospatial/Non-verbal reasoning and problem solving
  • Working memory and mental flexibility
  • Auditory memory
  • Visual memory
  • Language
  • Processing speed
  • Executive function
  • Mood and anxiety / stress
  • Test score validity

Results of an assessment are typically presented in report format and may also be discussed directly with the patient. 

The significance of the findings of the assessment in relation to the referral question, along with a short summary of the main findings, are typically briefly summarised at the end of the report.

Neuropsychological treatment

Where appropriate, treatment is offered to help improve or mitigate the impact of presented cognitive, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Within the Clinical Neuropsychology service this is provided within the framework of a brief goal-focused intervention model. Typically, this work involves aspects of cognitive rehabilitation, the implementation of strategies to compensate for cognitive problems and, where appropriate, brief psychological therapy interventions for associated psychological difficulties, typically within a cognitive-behavioural therapy framework.

Comprehensive post-acute multi-disciplinary neuro-rehabilitation, including neuropsychological input, is offered by the Frenchay Centre for Brain Injury Rehabilitation and the Head Injury Therapy Unit at Frenchay.