Neuropsychology examines brain-behavior relationships. More specifically, neuropsychologists are licensed professionals who evaluate cognitive abilities such as memory, attention, visual-spatial skills, and problem solving. Through testing and interviews, neuropsychologists identify individual strengths and weaknesses, and work with the rehabilitation team to develop personalized strategies for each individual assessed. The aim of these strategies is to compensate for deficits and utilize strengths most effectively in an effort to maximize functional gains.
Rehabilitation psychology is the psychological evaluation and treatment of persons with disabilities. Whether people are born with their disabilities or acquire them later in life, rehabilitation psychologists help them to lead functional, fulfilling and meaningful lives. Rehabilitation psychologists help people deal with conditions and issues stemming from disability such as chronic health conditions, emotional problems, and psychosocial problems.
Understanding disability related impairments and the effects on patients and families is necessary when designing effective treatment programs:
- Rehabilitation regimens - Division clinicians work side by side with PMR physiatrists and therapists to achieve the best patient outcomes possible.
- Training curriculum - Division faculty educate physicians and scientists about therapeutic and neuropharmacologic agents and the effects of such interventions on cognition, behavior, and emotion.
- Research studies - Division researchers investigate rehabilitation strategies that will improve the rate and effectiveness of patient recovery.
The Adult Inpatient Rehabilitation Psychology and Neuropsychology Program provides services the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute at UPMC Mercy. The Mercy campus has 76 dedicated post-acute rehab beds divided into four units and holds the centers of excellence in stroke rehabilitation, brain injury rehabilitation, and spinal cord injury. Additional patient populations include burn survivors, amputees, oncology, and individuals with medical complexities. Services include brief neuropsychological assessments, patient and family education and counseling to address adjustment to disability, capacity evaluations, and consultation on the trauma service. We work along with the post-acute interdisciplinary team to maximize goals and address barriers to completing rehab. Furthermore, we assist with ongoing program development for the rehab units, provide regular education series to incoming rehab nursing staff on addressing difficult patients/families, agitation, and participate in UPMC Mercy’s ethics meetings. As needed, we give presentations to therapy staff on various topics related to our field. We also provide ongoing education to residents in the PM&R department, medical and therapy students, and geriatric psychiatry fellows. Our goal is continued expansion to provide comprehensive services throughout the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute at all of its locations.
The Adult Outpatient Neuropsychology and Rehabilitation Psychology Program includes adult outpatient neuropsychological testing at UPMC Mercy. Services include outpatient neuropsychological assessments for patients with traumatic brain injury, stroke, epilepsy, neurodegenerative disorders, and other neurological conditions. We assist physicians with rehabilitation goals and provide recommendations to help maximize rehabilitation success. Presentations are given to faculty and therapy staff as needed on topics related to neuropsychological assessment. Continued expansion of this program to serve our patients with disabilities throughout their transition back to the community and beyond is planned.