Neuropsychology Service - VA Northern California Health Care System
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VA Northern California Health Care System

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Neuropsychology Service

The VANCHCS Neuropsychology Service operates both neuropsychological assessment services and neurocognitive rehabilitation interventions.  We also operate an APA-approved postdoctoral residency program in Clinical Neuropsychology with residents based at both the Martinez and Mather campuses and provide training at the internship and externship level at the Martinez VA campus.  All VANCHCS Neuropsychology staff members serve as faculty for these programs and provide clinical, research, and professional mentorship.

Neuropsychological Assessment Program

  • East Bay Coordinator:  Donna Sorensen, Ph.D.
  • Contact: (925)372-2000, ext. 6653

Outpatient clinical consultation services are available at the Mather and Oakland VA campuses and both inpatient (Community Living Center) and outpatient services are available at the Martinez VA campus. We provide comprehensive assessment of cognitive and emotional functioning in Veterans to aide in diagnosis and treatment, neurocognitive screenings for more severely disordered Veterans, and detailed feedback to Veterans, family, and referral sources. Many of the Veterans referred to us present with complicated diagnostic pictures including comorbid neurologic, psychiatric, medical, and/or substance abuse problems. Common consultation questions include differentiation of depression vs. dementia, Alzheimer’s vs. vascular dementia, and rule-out alcohol-related dementia. We are part of the Polytrauma/TBI team and work closely with multiple disciplines to provide comprehensive evaluations of patients with known or suspected traumatic brain injury. We also perform evaluations of Veterans’ capacity to make treatment and financial decisions and address how cognitive deficits might affect everyday functioning to assist in discharge/placement issues. Veterans experiencing cognitive deficits secondary to psychiatric disorders (e.g., PTSD, depression, schizophrenia) are also frequently referred. While the emphasis of the service is the evaluation of Veterans with known or suspected acquired central nervous system disorders, our clinics at Mather and Martinez do accept consults requesting evaluations for possible Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and, under some circumstance, accept a limited number of consults to evaluate for learning disabilities. However, the latter Veterans are generally better served obtaining evaluation at specialized learning centers within college campuses.

Neurocognitive Rehabilitation

  • Sacramento Coordinator: Traci Sitzer, PhD
  • Contact: (916) 366-5477

Specialized outpatient neurocognitive rehabilitation evaluations and interventions are available at the Mather and Oakland VA campuses and both inpatient (CLC/CREC) and outpatient services are available at the Martinez VA campus. Neurocognitive rehabilitation services are available to the Redding and Chico Outpatient Clinics via VTEL. We utilize an evidence-based approach to treatment for Veterans with cognitive, emotional, and mental health issues that adversely impact Veterans’ day-to-day functioning. These problems may be due to cognitive impairment associated with neurological issues (e.g., traumatic brain injuries, stroke, dementia, etc.), but can also represent the influence of complex/comorbid conditions (e.g., psychiatric, medical, substance abuse, and pain issues). We are part of the Polytrauma/TBI team, and work closely with multiple disciplines to provide comprehensive treatment of the patients with traumatic brain injury. We provide intake assessments, functional evaluations, care plans, and treatment. Treatment options include tailored, time-limited psychoeducational programs for Veterans and family/caregivers, individualized one-on-one neurocognitive rehabilitation techniques, a variety of specialized group therapies, behavior management, and utilization of external aids/compensatory devices and strategies. Under some circumstances, in-home and/or community-based assessments and training strategies are used. Veterans with moderate to severe dementia, active psychotic disorders, or challenging personality styles generally are not good candidates for this service.