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Robin RichardsonDoctoral candidate Robin Richardson says experience in the neuropsychology assessment clinic allows students to see their textbooks come to life.

Neuropsychology assessment clinic open to adult clients

UWindsor’s neuropsychology assessment service has matured.

Launched a year ago to provide assessments for children and adolescents, the focus of the clinic will shift May 1 to serving adults and seniors. The new roster of clients could include adults who have suffered a stroke or brain injury, have brain cancer, or are living with Parkinson’s disease, dementia, multiple sclerosis or a learning disability.

Alternating yearly between offering services for children and adults is by design, explained psychology professor Carlin Miller, who led the move to add the clinical service to the university’s 30-year-old neuropsychology program. The clinic not only provides a timelier and less expensive service than clients could get elsewhere, it provides practical experience to graduate students in the neuropsychology track within the clinical psychology doctoral program.

“It’s such good training for them,” Dr. Miller said. “The students get training at both ends of the lifespan.”

Neuropsychology is the study of how the brain and the nervous system affects a person’s cognitive abilities and behaviours. A neuropsychological assessment evaluates the effects of things like brain damage and brain disease and can be used to recommend strategies, treatment, and services.

Doctoral student Robin Richardson came to Windsor from Vancouver specifically for the neuropsychology program. “It’s considered one of the best in Canada,” she said.

Experience in the clinic is like the training medical students get in a teaching hospital. Richardson said it allows students to see their textbooks come to life.

“It’s real people and real cases,” she said. “This is really solid training and we’re delivering a really good service to the community.”

The clinic is housed in the Psychological Services and Research Centre, also known as the House on Riverside, at the foot of Patricia Road. The historic home features lots of original woodwork and sweeping views of the Detroit River.

Richardson points out the one-way glass in the testing rooms that allows supervisors observe students’ interactions with clients and give meaningful feedback.

“The supervision is excellent and the facility is gorgeous.”

Of the 25 students in the doctoral program, six to eight work in the clinic at any one time. They are supervised by the five neuropsychologists on faculty, all of them clinicians registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario. The fee charged for the assessment is based on income.

In the first year, the clinic provided assessments for 25 children ranging in age from 4 to their late teens.

This year, with the switch to adults, the search is on for clients. Miller said she has reached out to local neurologists, the geriatric clinic at Windsor Regional Hospital, and groups that provide services to people living with neurological diseases or the effects of brain injury or strokes.

Miller said the clinic will fill a deep void in neuropsychological services for adults. There is only one neuropsychologist in Windsor, and that professional sees only hospital patients.

“There are no adult neuropsychologists working in the community,” Miller said.

Performing neuropsychological assessments is but one psychological service offered by the University. Another clinical program offers therapy to UWindsor students and local adolescents and children.

“The university is providing a lot of really important services to the community,” Miller said.

─Sarah Sacheli