Beyond Traumatic Brain Injury: Advancing Forensic Neuropsychological Assessment [2018]

As research on the cognitive impact of medical conditions and mental health disorders advances, it is imperative for forensic neuropsychologists to stay abreast of rapidly accumulating new empirical evidence from neuroscience and neuropsychology to disentangle multiple determinants of cognitive impairment. Although medicolegal neuropsychological assessments traditionally focused on traumatic brain injury (TBI) sequelae, it is equally important to consider the potential impact of any other acquired, or secondarily induced brain impairments, regardless of their source. Such injuries or conditions are at times assumed to cause a lesser cognitive impact than TBIs; however, their effects depend entirely on the factor in question. Injuries and illnesses implicated in civil litigation—and eventually affecting competency—can indeed involve TBI, but also anoxic/hypoxic injuries, pain, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sensory deficits (e.g., tinnitus), and fatigue, and all, in turn, can affect an individual’s cognitive function and quality of life. Impairments caused by these conditions can be disabling and resistant to treatment, particularly, when the treatment is based on incorrect diagnostic, prognostic, and causality assumptions.

Izabela Z. Schultz, Amir A. Sepehry, Sarah Greer
Psychological Injury and Law, June 2018, Volume 11, Issue 2