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/ase·mia/ (a-se´me-ah)

Is a medical condition dealing with inability to employ or to understand either speech or signs. It is a more severe condition than aphasia, which is the inability to understand linguistic signs. Asemia is caused by damage in the areas of the mind that process communication signals.

The most common cause of asemia is trauma to the brain, such as stroke, a brain tumor or a blow to the head. Other possible causes include Alzheimer’s disease and infection. Though left-handed people can process communications in both the left and right sides of the brain, most people use their left brain only. For this reason, the condition typically is the result of a problem in that side of the brain. Asemia often appears suddenly because of the nature of the conditions that cause it, although it can develop slowly, such as with dementia.

Depending on the severity and the kind of condition that causes it, asemia can be temporary or permanent. In many cases, it can be treated within days. This is especially common among patients who have suffered a stroke, which is also the largest group to get asemia.

The most common treatment for asemia is speech therapy. This treatment enables a patient to relearn writing, speaking and comprehension skills. Depending on the severity of the condition, it can take years to complete therapy. Methods of treatment include speech practice and the use of specialized computer programs that help a patient practice the basics of communication.

Complete success is common, but there are cases it which it is possible to restore only partial ability. In some situations, a therapist might concentrate on helping the patient to manage the loss of skills that cannot be retrieved. Using short sentences, writing down phrases and giving patients ample time to communicate can aid in the healing process.

There is a form of expression known as asemic writing in which text is created with no obvious meaning, though it might derive significance through context. It is an abstract form that is often incorporated into visual art. Although it might look similar to regular text, asemic writing can be arranged in any way, from a traditional set of organized lines to a randomly arranged group of scribblings.

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