Establishing Measurement Standards for Assessing Cognitive Function

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The importance of establishing standards for assessing cognitive function in addiction treatment

assessing cognitive functionIn this video, Dr. Tonmoy Sharma and Dr. Judith Ho discuss the importance of establishing standards for the assessing cognitive function as part of addiction treatment. Understanding the effects of addiction on cognitive function is a key to changing behavior in those affected. For decades we have had the tools to collect and measure brain function and yet they haven’t been employed in a systematic way. We must strive to be sure that we collect and measure the data in order to analyze, interpret and ultimately inform treatment plans. Dr. Sharma believes that establishing of assessment it really quite simple yet it is not happening. The community of substance abuse providers has been stuck in a mind set with the unwillingness to change. He calls for measurement based assessment, treatment and follow-up. Of course it is important to understand what cognitive function is and how it affects substance use disorders and mental illnesses. Cognitive function are the basic functions we use to navigate through everyday life such as memory, attention, reasoning and problem solving. We use these skills almost unconsciously. Those with cognitive disorders are not able to process and keep information because of decreased brain function due to illness or alcohol or drug addiction. When treating substance abuse we should be assessing attention, memory, reasoning and problem solving because cognitive impairment impacts response to treatment including a patient not understanding what is wrong with them. It is currently the norm to treat substance abuse with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) such as process groups. But process groups require that a person be able to sit and absorb information from someone else, make sense of that information and then utilize the information so they can change behavior. If they are unable to grasp and sense of that information, the treatment becomes useless to the patient. Unfortunately, the patient in treatment is left to wonder how they can make a change if they can’t process the information. Dr. Sharma concludes that it isn’t the patient who needs to change but the providers who need to change how they measure cognitive function. With established standards for assessing patients’ brain function we can offer a much better level of care.

What Is a Cognitive Test?

Cognitive testing, also called neurocognitive testing or psychometric testing, assesses your ability to think clearly and to determine if any mental conditions exist. If so, this testing allows one to determine if said condition is getting better or worse. Assessments of this kind can be used in mental health facilities or for employment screenings.

Early versions of cognitive tests were established around 100 years ago and developed through the ages. “Pencil and pen” tests were widely used up until the advent of computerized testing in the 1970s and 1980s. These new tests offered more accurate data reporting and a better assessment on response time.

Why Cognitive Testing Is Important?

Cognitive testing is crucial in assessing cognitive function and diagnosing any mental health conditions you may have. Without a proper evaluation, little can be done to solve the problem on a long-term basis. In order to appropriately treat someone for a mental health condition, its impact on the individual has to be known. When you enter treatment with CHI Recovery, our treatment professionals can evaluate your mental state and offer an informed course of action for treatment. Call us to discuss options and treatment programs so that we can discover one that is right for you.