Neuropsychology and Assessment Service

The Neuropsychology and Assessment Service at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) provides evaluation and consultation services for children with specific medical disorders. The purpose of a neuropsychological evaluation is to understand how medical conditions or treatments involving the brain or central nervous system affect the person’s development, including impacts on cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functioning. We work with patients from infancy through young adulthood.

We manage or diagnose neurocognitive effects associated with medical conditions including, as major categories and examples:

  • Brain tumor and other childhood cancers
  • Central nervous system infection
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Cerebrovascular disease or stroke
  • Craniofacial conditions
  • Demyelinating disorders (e.g., multiple sclerosis, ADEM)
  • Epilepsy
  • Genetic/metabolic disorders
  • Heart disease (e.g., congenital heart disease, heart failure, heart transplant)
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Hypoxic or anoxic brain injury
  • Mitochondrial disorders
  • Neurotoxic exposures
  • Spina bifida
  • Traumatic brain injury

Neuropsychologists evaluate cognitive skills such as attention, learning, memory, language, reasoning and problem solving, perceptual and sensory/motor functions. This helps us understand brain functioning in the course of development and evaluate the potential need for interventions to support development. We also evaluate psychological, emotional, and behavioral factors which may be associated with patients’ medical conditions and can help differentiate between cognitive problems that arise from medical conditions and those that arise from other causes. We provide a number of different services, including comprehensive and targeted neuropsychological evaluations as well as neuropsychological consultation. Our goal is to identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses, answer questions you have about your child’s cognitive functioning, and make treatment and service recommendations to help your child reach their full potential.

What is a neuropsychological evaluation? 

Neuropsychological evaluation is an approach to understanding how medical factors affecting the brain, intellectual and cognitive functions, and psychological and psycho-social factors interact over the course of time and in a person’s development.  It may involve a broad evaluation of cognitive abilities, or a more targeted assessment of specific areas of concern—the neuropsychology team can help determine what kind of evaluation will be the best for your child.  A neuropsychological evaluation might assess any or all of the following areas:

  • Intellectual functioning
  • Attention and executive function skills (e.g., planning, organization, impulse control, cognitive flexibility)
  • Reasoning and problem solving
  • Language
  • Visual-spatial/visual-perceptual skills
  • Sensory-perceptual functioning
  • Fine motor abilities
  • Learning and memory
  • Academic achievement
  • Social skills
  • Emotional and behavioral functioning
  • Adaptive skills (independence in daily living activities)

Neuropsychological evaluation is not considered to be medically necessary when used primarily for:

  • Educational evaluation of possible learning disabilities or as part of vocational assessment to help plan job training
  • Baseline assessment of function or screening purposes in individuals without medical conditions known to affect the brain
  • Monitoring of chronic conditions when there is no significant new change in behavioral, mental state, or cognitive functioning

Neuropsychological evaluation usually includes an interview with the child and their caregivers, observation of the child’s behavior, and in-person testing. Testing may involve hands-on activities, answering questions, computerized tasks, and paper-and-pencil tests. The neuropsychologist may also ask caregivers and teachers to complete standardized questionnaires about the child’s development, emotional functioning, and behavior. Testing is usually completed in one day. Once testing is complete, the neuropsychologist summarizes the evaluation findings and recommendations usually in a feedback discussion and in a written report.  Depending on the patient’s age, the findings, impressions, diagnoses and recommendations will be shared with them and/or their family or other caregivers.  The report will be shared with the patient’s referring medical provider and will be available to others also involved in delivering care. With permission, information can also be shared with schools or outside services or agencies.

How do I add my child to the waitlist for a neuropsychological evaluation at CHOP?

We ask that a medical provider or specialist involved in your child’s care submit a letter of medical necessity stating the reasons the evaluation is needed, along with relevant medical diagnoses (to help the insurance company understand the reason for the evaluation). If a letter of medical necessity is not possible, clinical documentation or office notes are also acceptable.

If your child’s provider is affiliated with CHOP, the letter of medical necessity can be submitted directly through the electronic medical record. If a provider outside of CHOP is referring your child, all documentation can be faxed to 445-428-4263. All incoming referrals are reviewed by a neuropsychologist for clinical appropriateness, and by our administrative staff for insurance verification.

There may be a significant waiting period between your child’s clinical referral for an evaluation and your appointment. The exact length of time you’ll wait for an appointment depends on the type of evaluation your child needs.

If your child’s clinical referral is appropriate for a neuropsychological evaluation, you will receive a letter from our group outlining the estimated wait, general information about the service, and an option to be added to the cancellation list.

If you have any additional questions about the referral process, evaluation procedures, or the service in general, please direct all questions to or call 215-590-7555.

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