SCS is a type of electrical nerve stimulation whereby a small pulse generator sends electrical pulses to the affected nerves in the spinal cord believed to contribute or cause your chronic pain; these pulses disrupt the nerve transmissions that cause you to feel pain. Because of the potential risks and subsequent impact on health a psychological evaluation prior to the insertion of an SCS is recommended. The evaluation will be used to determine your readiness psychologically for the procedure, and if there are any mental health issues that might contribute to, or interfere with, your being successful with the procedure, this is something your medical providers need to know in determining the appropriateness of this treatment method.

What is the purpose of a psychological evaluation? 

The purpose of an evaluation is to identify psychosocial risk factors and make recommendations to both the patient and the surgical group that are aimed at facilitating the best possible outcome for the patient. Psychosocial factors can sometimes be stronger predictors of the outcome of invasive pain and play an important role in shaping individual differences in the pain experience and may influence responses to SCS. If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, etc.; these problems by themselves do not necessarily mean you will be disqualified for the SCS procedure.  Knowing beforehand; however, that you are struggling with mental health difficulties can ensure that proper support is in place prior to the procedure, to enhance and increase the likelihood of your success.

What to expect: 

Testing will be scheduled in one day for your convenience and to ensure results can be given to the referring physician as soon as possible. The evaluation consists of three parts.

The first is the completion of standard psychological tests. This typically takes one hour for most people to finish. Some patients take a shorter amount of time. Some take a longer amount of time. For most of the tests, there are no right answers or wrong answers. They are designed to learn as much about you as possible (attitudes, behaviors, emotions) in a relatively brief time.

The second is a structured clinical interview that usually lasts 45-60 minutes. After the completion of your initial testing appointment, you will be scheduled for a final session to complete your evaluation and provide feedback on results. This session can be completed via HIPAA compliant tele-video platform for your convenience.  The information from the interview is then combined with the information from the tests and a report is then sent to the referring physician. The report should be delivered within two weeks after your evaluation has been completed.

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