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Best Practice Guidelines for Forensic Neuropsychological Examinations of Patients With Traumatic Brain Injury

Ruff, Ronald PhD

Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: March-April 2009 - Volume 24 - Issue 2 - p 131–140
doi: 10.1097/01.HTR.0000348755.42649.e9
Orginal Article

Forensic examiners generally agree that their contributions to the forensic process have to be based on scientific principles, high ethical values, and sound clinical skills and judgment. In part I, the challenges of maintaining high ethical standards as a scientist-practitioner are addressed. In part II, the scientific strengths and weaknesses of our neuropsychological assessments are explored within the context of the 4 articles published in this issue. Specifically, Wood points out that while most traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) compromise the prefrontal cortex (PFC), traditional neuropsychological examinations do not fully capture to what extent PFC damage disrupts cognitive, emotional, and social regulation. New advances in clinical neuroscience are presented to facilitate a more detailed understanding of PFC functioning. Schwarz et al examine how clinical neuropsychology services can adequately handle forensic consultations. Frederick and Bowden, meanwhile, identify the persistent weaknesses of various Symptom Validity Tests in reliably classifying poor effort and malingering. Bailey et al conclude that the findings from sport concussion studies cannot be generalized to clinical populations, who, as a rule, have more premorbid and comorbid vulnerabilities. Finally, part III provides guidelines based on the introductory article by Bigler and Brooks, as well as a synopsis of the main conclusions offered by the contributors in this journal issue. Guidelines for both the diagnosis of mild TBI and the diagnosis of postconcussional disorder are included.

Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco.

Corresponding Author: Ronald Ruff, PhD, San Francisco Clinical Neurosciences, 909 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109 (

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.