The third edition of the popular Pocket Handbook for Assessment has been revised considerably under the editorship of Drs. Parsons and Hammeke. Those familiar with the first edition, published in 1998 and fondly called “Snyder and Nussbaum” after the original editors, know that the Pocket Handbook has a reputation as a succinct, easy-to-read, useful reference. Since the first edition, the Handbook has provided a brief summary of assessment methods and clinical considerations for a number of neurological conditions, neuropsychological syndromes, and psychiatric disorders. Clinicians, both practicing and in-training, have found the topics useful and fairly comprehensive, unless their practice is primarily with children.
For those who have enjoyed previous editions, this new edition, published in 2014, is well worth a further investment, as the text has been reorganized, chapters have been updated with new material and revised by new contributors, and new chapters have been added. The newest edition of the Pocket Handbook has 55 contributors to 27 chapters; 40 of these contributors are new to this edition. The text is divided into four parts, and has eight brand-new chapters.
In the first major subdivision, covering general issues related to assessment, chapters on the medical chart, the neurological exam, and bedside examinations have been replaced by new chapters on practical issues of the neurological clinical setting, the neurobehavioral exam, and cultural issues in neuropsychology. As with previous editions, there are chapters covering laboratory tests, imaging studies, validity measures, and assessment of children. The three remaining subdivisions of the text cover specific neurological disorders, neuropsychological syndromes, and psychiatric disorders commonly seen by neuropsychologists. In these sections, each chapter is a concise resource, providing definitions, diagnostic criteria, issues associated with differential diagnoses, a functional neuroanatomy review, and recommendations for assessment and test selection. In the neurological disorders section, a new chapter has been added on alcohol-related neuropathy while the earlier chapter on movement and demyelinating disorders has been divided into two separate chapters, one covering movement disorders and deep brain stimulation and the other covering multiple sclerosis and demyelinating disorders. This section has revised and updated chapters on vascular disease, dementia, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, oncology, and neurotoxicity. The third major subdivision of the text reviews common neuropsychological syndromes, including amnestic disorders, aphasias, visuospatial/visuoperceptual/visuoconstructional disorders, attentional disorders, and frontal lobe dysfunction. Separate chapters on limb apraxia, neglect, and agnosias, present in the previous edition, have been lost. The final subsection of the text reviews psychiatric disorders commonly seen by neuropsychologists, including chapters on learning disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, depression, substance use disorders, impulse control disorders, and mood disorders associated with neurological disorders. The new chapter in this section focuses on somatic symptom disorders.
It is evident that the editors were thoughtful and deliberate in their choice of authors, chapter topics, and format for this edition of the text. Of the eight new chapters, the three that were particularly welcome additions were in the first subsection of the text: “Neuropsychology in the Clinical Setting: Conceptual and Practical Issues,” “Neurobehavioral Examination,” and “Cultural Neuropsychology: The New Norm.” The first provides an overview of the neurological exam, as in previous editions, but expands upon this to describe the thought process and diagnostic considerations typical of neurologists, with a goal to educate the neuropsychologist how best to communicate and work in an interdisciplinary way with our colleagues in neurology. The neurobehavioral exam chapter is a how-to guide in a Luria-style examination process, with a thorough yet concise review in 20 small pages. Finally, the chapter on cultural neuropsychology provides a brief review of the evolution of thought with regard to culturally sensitive assessment and the necessity of all practicing clinical neuropsychologists to understand both the myths and the tenets of evidenced-based practice when working with diverse populations. While I suspect that my trainees may not take to this text as leisure reading the way I have, at minimum, these three chapters are certain to be required reading.
At 7″ × 4.5″ × 1.5″, the soft cover text is readily transportable and should fit the pocket of a white lab coat or the side pocket of a bag or satchel; however, it belongs in the hands of clinical neuropsychologists and trainees for ease of use and ready reference. When not busy in the clinic, the avid learner will find that the accompanying website will provide a stimulating and enjoyable adjunctive resource. The website has a video of a neurobehavioral exam to accompany the chapter on the same, and a library of brain images demonstrating the imaging techniques covered in the corresponding chapter. Supplemental references, suggested readings, and tables with related information are available for almost every chapter. For example, the chapter on “Neuropsychological Assessment of Developmental Disorders” has 11 supplemental tables describing tests and measures relevant for the assessment of intellectual functioning, achievement, spoken language, adaptive functioning and more, along with test references and suggested readings. The highlight of the supplemental materials is the library of audio files demonstrating speech disturbances, with corresponding transcripts, which accompanies the chapter on aphasia.
The text alone is a concise, clinically relevant resource; the text plus the website are undoubtedly a strong contender for the title of “most useful purchase” for the practitioner of adult clinical neuropsychology. As a final point, the website materials are freely available on the apa.org website regardless of the viewer's status as an APA member or text owner.