Acalculia

acalculiaDescription, Causes and Risk Factors: A form of aphasia characterized by the inability to perform simple mathematical problems; found with lesions of various areas of the cerebral hemispheres, and often an early sign of dementia. The inability to do simple mathematics problems. This includes the simplest of mathematical operations: Quantity comparisons.
  • Addition.
  • Subtraction.
  • Multiplication.
  • Division.
Types: Aphasic acalculia, alexic acalculia, agraphic acalculia, frontal acalculia, spatial acalculia. Acalculia was formally named in 1920 by Henschen. Henschen hypothesized that acalculia was due to impairments in multiple areas of the brain. His initial hypothesis was close as there are many numerical processing areas. The level of acalculia differs in every diagnosed individual and the reasoning behind the difference is still not completely understood. A great example is a case described by Lampl et al. in 1993, where they described a patient that was clearly acalculic and was unable to perform all the basic mathematical functions except subtraction. Therefore, not every mathematical function has to be dysfunctional in order for the individual to have acalculia. Causes: Damage to the left angular gyrus is known to cause computational difficulties like those associated with primary acalculia and anarithmetia. However, damage to various but not necessarily identified areas of the brain can cause computational difficulties, as various cognitive functions are necessary to execute mathematical calculations. Other Risk Factors: Brain Tumor.
  • Stroke.
  • Encephalitis.
  • Infection.
  • Brain Trauma.
Patients of acalculia usually have a normal lifespan, unless other traumatic injuries or disabilities prevent normal living. Acalculia is a numerical impairment that affects the patients late in their lives due to some stroke or brain trauma. Although it can seriously affect one's ability to deal with numbers and make numerical calculations, patients of this condition are otherwise known to lead a normal, healthy life.

Symptoms:

Patients of acalculia demonstrate difficulty in performing simple mathematical operations, like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. As calculation and identification of numbers are connected with the integration of numerous cognitive , experts believe that an individual with this condition experiences problems in any of these four perceptions: Understanding the fact that every number denotes a certain value and immediately recognizing this value.
  • Recognizing the value of a number with respect to the other numbers. For example, they might face difficulty in understanding that the number 5 is greater than 3 or 6 is less than 7.
  • Determining the location of a number in a series of numbers.
  • Associating the symbol of a number with its name. For example, they might face problems associating the word “three” with the symbol “3?.
Diagnosis: Diagnosis may include: Interview sessions, where patients are asked questions about mathematical order, are among the most common screening methods for this disease. Other tests, that can accurately portray the mental condition of the patient include: Memory tests.
  • Confrontation naming, where the subject has to name the parts of a given object.
  • Reading tests.
  • Calculation tests.
  • Clock drawing.
  • Finger naming.
  • Testing of left/right orientation.
  • Writing tests.
  • Spelling tests.
More extensive tests include: Brain mapping techniques, like position emission tomography or PET.
  • Event related potentials (ERP).
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI.
Treatment: Treatment is often aimed at caring for the pathology that initiated the disorder, such as stroke or viral infections. Recovery related to primary acalculia is usually limited and is instead aimed at managing symptoms. A long-term rehabilitation program that includes multiple activities that progress from rather simple, such as counting real objects, to more complex activities, such as the use of mathematical operations, has shown overall improvement in the mathematical of afflicted patients. There are several ways in which rehabilitation of acalculia is carried out. Using the "number reconstruction" method: It is started by incorporating certain "visual elements (e.g., completing eight, starting from the number 3), looking for certain elements within a number (e.g., looking for the number 1 in the number 4), and finally, performing a verbal analysis of the similarities and differences that can be observed between numbers". At the same time that these number reconstruction technique is used, spatial orientation exercises, comprehension of the right-to-left relationship, and visual analysis of geometrical objects and forms should be developed. In a more basic form, the method used was rote practice: the retrieval of simple arithmetical facts through drill or through conceptual training or the creation of strategies for solving concrete problems. Sohlberg and Mateer have said that "treatment should then include exercises that permit spatial analysis and visual motor ability training." Rehabilitation tasks are implemented following a program that progressively increases difficulty, beginning with simple movements designed for reaching for or indicating objects following by copying figures in two dimensions, and concluding with the construction of three-dimensional figures. NOTE: The above information is for processing purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.

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