• Rachel Stenhouse

Number processing deficits | 7 June 2022

Updated: Jun 10

(a talk by Yael Benn)

Yael gave a really interesting talk about her work on those with acalculia, in particular stroke survivors. Her presentation gave me insight into how acalculia affected people’s everyday lives and, sadly, the lack of support for stroke survivors to regain their mathematics and number cognition. I found the way this experience affected the identity of stroke survivors especially fascinating, particularly those who had used and needed mathematics cognition as part of their jobs. For example, Yale spoke of a participant who had been a mathematics teacher, but following his stroke had acalculia. As he was not given therapy to support him with this, he took it on himself to reteach himself the mathematics that he knew he could do previously. He did this by producing worksheets of calculations that he would then do to retrain his brain. This prompted discussion about how stroke survivors might be helped with acalculia and perhaps more creative ways to develop mathematics and number cognition again.

Yael also spoke of the use of mathematics and the need for number cognition more widely in medicine settings. For example, when calculating doses of medicine to take or prescribe and people’s confidence in doing this. As part of her talk, the audience were asked to participate in a screening test to experience the feeling of patients when provided with a medicine dosage to work out. Although, many of us are confident in our mathematics skills, we appreciated this experience as it evoked feelings of uncertainty and anxiety amongst some of us, allowing us to understand how a patient might feel.

This is such an important area of work that Yael is doing, and I am excited to hear about the next steps in this work, in particular materials that we can produce for carers and practitioners to use with stroke survivors who have acalculia with their rehabilitation.

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