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When to Ask for a Neuropsychological Assessment, or a Cognitive Functional Capacity Evaluation

The following chart outlines the differences between neuropsychological assessments and cognitive functional capacity evaluations. First, let’s start with definitions:

Neuropsychological Assessment

A Neuropsychological Assessment is a performance-based method of assessing cognitive functioning. It is used to examine the cognitive consequences of brain injury and mental health diagnoses.

The assessment includes standardized psychological tests, including:

  • Validity scales
  • Preinjury cognitive function
  • Memory
  • Executive functioning
  • Attention
  • Processing speed
  • Reasoning
  • Judgement
  • Problem solving
  • Spatial perceptual function
  • Language
  • Motor speech and coordination
  • Normative comparison linking findings to mechanism of injury.

Recommendations are provided regarding cognitive abilities, restrictions/limitations, diagnoses, prognoses and treatment recommendations.

Cognitive Functional Capacity Evaluation

A Cognitive Functional Capacity Evaluation (CFCE) includes functional testing from a physical and cognitive perspective. The outcome is a report that demonstrates capabilities with regards to a particular job. It requires information about the essential job demands, either through formal CDA/PDA, verbal job analysis or information from a database such as ONet.

A CFCE examines the fit between the client’s cognitive functioning and the demands of the job in question. The assessment is focused on work-related executive function. The evaluator considers the physical, functional/cognitive, perceptual/sensory, communicative, psycho-emotional and behavioral issues that may be present in the client post-concussion, CVA, mental health issue, etc. 

Recommendations are provided regarding feasibility for employment, overall work capacity and return-to-work goals.

Comparison Table:

Referral Questions AnsweredNeuropsychological AssessmentCognitive Functional Capacity Evaluation
Cognitive Abilities, Limitations/Restrictions
& Suggested Accommodations
RTW Recommendationsxx
-Physical Work Capacityx
-Cognitive Work Capacityxx
-Capacity for Work Overallxx
-Graduated RTW planningx
Job Match Comparison (with PDA/CDA)x
Treatment Recommendationsx
-Validity Testingx
Driving Safetyxx
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