Neuro-Oncology Cognitive Clinic for Brain & Spine Tumor Patients
Brain tumors and brain tumor treatment can cause some patients to experience cognitive side effects — changes in thinking, emotions and behavior. The unique Neuro-Oncology Cognitive Clinic at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin helps patients guard cognitive function and manage any changes that occur.
This innovative clinic is directed by David Sabsevitz, PhD, Medical College of Wisconsin neuropsychologist. Dr. Sabsevitz works with patients throughout their treatment to detect any cognitive changes that occur and help them optimize their cognitive function. He also provides valuable input to care team physicians on patient progress and neurological performance. The goal of the Neuro-Oncology Cognitive Clinic is to help patients maintain their quality of life throughout their illness and treatment.
Radiation, Chemotherapy & the Brain
Cognitive side effects vary widely among brain tumor patients. Specific symptoms depend on the size and location of the patient’s tumor. In addition, various radiation therapy and chemotherapy treatments can have different effects on the brain. Many patients have already experienced cognitive changes by the time of diagnosis.
Patients in the Neuro-Oncology Cognitive Clinic are evaluated initially to establish a baseline for comparison. Ideally, the initial evaluation takes place before any medical or surgical treatment. Patients undergo additional evaluations periodically throughout the course of their care.
Tests developed by Dr. Sabsevitz are sensitive to subtle changes in cognitive function, and they are often able to detect disease progression before it is picked up on radiological scans.
Some patients experience no cognitive changes at all during their treatment. Others actually experience improvements in cognition through the course of care, as treatments decrease the brain’s tumor burden.
Treating Cognitive Side Effects
When changes in cognitive function do occur, the Neuro-Oncology Cognitive Clinic can provide several interventions to help patients manage symptoms and side effects. Patients and their family members receive education and supportive counseling on dealing with changes. Various therapies can help patients optimize their abilities, mitigate memory problems and manage emotional changes. As needed, patients are referred to counseling psychologists and therapists.