Before beginning treatment, we will complete an evaluation to determine what, if any, concerns exist that a psychologist could help with. Although most people with pain and chronic illness will benefit from meeting with a psychologist, some people will not. This appointment is 1.5 hours long, and I will learn about you, your condition, your history, and what you hope to get out of treatment. The main objective is to learn more about you to determine if I could help. We may also begin to discuss treatment during this session so that we can start to chart a course. I will likely discuss obtaining your permission to work with other relevant providers who are part of your teams, such as pain medicine, neurology, primary care, and any other mental health providers you work with. These releases will better help me to treat and support you during our work together.
I will get information relevant to your illness, symptoms, and function during this evaluation. It will include a timeline of your condition, and how it maps to other events in your life. I will also get information related to any stress-related and mental health concerns. Other information to be obtained includes relevant medical, family, and social history to better understand your history. I will likely request releases to work with other medical providers you see to better support you.
I offer presurgical evaluations for spinal cord stimulators and pain pumps. Psychological evaluations are often required before patients receive medical devices, such as those stimulating nerves in the spine (Spinal Cord Stimulators) or delivering medications directly into the spine (pain pumps).
A psychological evaluation is an assessment of a patient’s emotional state, personality traits, and cognitive ability. It helps doctors determine whether a patient is suitable for treatment with a device that stimulates nerves in the spine.
If you need a spinal cord stimulator (SCS) for pain relief, you will likely undergo a psychological evaluation before receiving one. This process involves asking questions about your medical history, family history, and current symptoms. You might also be asked to complete tests that measure your memory, attention, concentration, and other skills. These tests help doctors understand how well you think and function. They also help them decide whether you are a good candidate for SCS therapy.
A psychologist or psychiatrist can perform the test. However, the difficulty is finding one who has the expertise and knowledge to provide such an evaluation.
Several tests may be performed during a psychological evaluation for spinal cord stimulator implantation. These tests will help determine whether the patient has mental health disorders that would make them ineligible for an SCS. It can also help determine if the patient has any other psychological factors that are known to predict a poor outcome prior to the surgery.
If you are considering getting an SCS, you should schedule your evaluation as soon as possible. This will allow you to discuss your options with your doctor before deciding. It would be best if you also considered scheduling your evaluation at least six months before surgery so that you have enough time to prepare for the procedure.
You can read my blog article on this topic here.
Garry Spink, PhD - Spink Psychology, PLLC
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