ImPACT Version 4

Administration and Interpretation Manual

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What Is Neurocognitive Assessment and Why Use It?

Neurocognitive assessment is a performance-based method to assess the many aspects of cognitive functioning. Included in this assessment are measurements of reaction time, processing speed and memory. A neurocognitive assessment is used to examine normal cognitive function and differentiate the cognitive consequences of traumatic brain injury, brain disease, and mental illness. Neurocognitive assessment may be used to aid clinicians and researchers in formulating diagnostic impressions, assessment of treatment response, and prediction of functional potential and functional recovery. Recent advances in neurocognitive assessment include computerized presentation of many of the tasks traditionally presented in paper and pencil format.

Computer-based neurocognitive testing has become the principle component of concussion evaluation. International expert meetings on the topic of concussion in sports explicitly endorsed neuropsychological testing as the “cornerstone” of concussion management (McCrory, Meeuwisse, Dvorak, et al 2016). Many pediatricians who currently manage concussions report using neurocognitive testing as part of their evaluation. While most of the attention in diagnosing and treating concussions has been focused on younger individuals, the highest combined incidence of TBI-related emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, and deaths actually occurs in older adults (Taylor, Bell, Breiding, Xu, 2017; Gardner, Dams-O'Connor, 2018). Given the large number of reported concussions and the notion that there is significant underreporting of concussions that actually occur, there is an increasing need for high-quality, empirically validated tools to aid healthcare professionals in their identification and treatment of head injury.

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