Leicester neuropsychologist develops assessment for brain damaged patients

New SPANS assessment can help patients suffering from traumatic brain injury, aneurism, dementia and stroke

A dynamic new assessment for helping victims of trauma to the brain, including those suffering from progressive conditions such as dementia, has been developed by a clinical neuropsychologist from the University of Leicester.

The Short Parallel Assessments of Neuropsychological Status (SPANS) is the brainchild of Dr Gerald Burgess from the University of Leicester’s School of Psychology and has been designed to engage with patients suffering from a variety of brain injuries in order to aid in their recovery.

SPANS is unique in that it measures the cognitive skills of individuals with acquired brain injury and progressive neurological conditions in a user-friendly and concise way, taking patients an estimated 35 minutes to complete.

With SPANS clinicians now have a broader and more-reliable assessment that is even more useful than most tests for tracking changes in cognitive skills over time

The assessment is capable of measuring seven key cognitive skills: orientation, attention and concentration, language, memory and learning, visuo-motor performance, efficiency and conceptual flexibility.

An alternative version is also available, SPANS B, which complements SPANS A for reliable retesting of patients.

Both versions were developed based on real neurological syndromes, such as aphasia, and common referral questions informed by Dr Burgess’s experience as a clinical psychologist on brain injury wards.

Dr Burgess said: “With SPANS clinicians now have a broader and more-reliable assessment that is even more useful than most tests for tracking changes in cognitive skills over time. Patients are now more thoroughly assessed by a test that is less taxing on them than some other tests, so their difficulties may be better understood.”

The test is suitable for administration by a range of healthcare professionals, including clinical or research psychologists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, psychiatrists and neurologists.

SPANS is a comprehensive and flexible test that will address the various needs of clinicians and researchers alike

During the development of SPANS Dr Burgess worked with publisher, Hogrefe, which helped to collect data and develop SPANS to a professional standard through production and marketing efforts.

Roley Davis, sales and marketing manager at Hogrefe, said: “We are proud to have worked with Dr Burgess to bring this innovative new assessment to the market. SPANS is a comprehensive and flexible test that will address the various needs of clinicians and researchers alike. Hogrefe’s mission is to develop robust, valid and reliable assessments that address market need, and the SPANS is an excellent addition to our clinical portfolio.”

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