Clinical Applications of Neuropsychological Tests in the Diving Industry.
NAVAL HEALTH RESEARCH CENTER SAN DIEGO CA
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Neuropsychological tests are those designed to measure human abilities known to be affected by various types of brain damage. These tests have typically been used to measure impairment and document recovery in cases of organic brain syndrome due to such causes as head trauma, aging, cerebrovascular accidents, and drug or medication overdoses. Certain patterns of impaired test performance can suggest both location and extent of brain damage. While the usual neurological examinations and tests, e.g., EEG, CAT scan, etc., provide information on subcortical function and organic damage, respectively, neuropsychological tests indicate degree of impairment of cerebrocortical functions such as memory, concentration, judgment, and perceptual-motor skills. Knowledge of such impairments is of particular importance in divers since stress potentiates brain damage-related impairment of abilities. A diver who appears relatively normal at the surface may, under the physiological and psychological stress of a dive, exhibit impairment which could pose risk to himself or others. A second area of concern is the documentation of responsibility. Obtaining baseline neuropsychological data on an individual at the time of initial employment can establish whether signs of impaired function following a diving accident were pre-existing conditions or were incurred since employment.
- Stress Physiology