Foreign Accent Syndrome

What is Foreign Accent Syndrome?

The said condition, foreign accent syndrome, is considered as rare for which it involves speech changes. The condition is indeed rare for there has been few cases reported for this condition. Accounts of foreign accent syndrome have been noted minimal and have caused great interest among medical practitioners. This is also famous for it has come out to the news and is considered as a speech disorder. This has also become a feast in the media because there are cases where a person with an American-accent acquires a British or German accent. This condition has been a question to all medical practitioners, because clear explanation of the disease process has not been provided and given. This is such a medical mystery that still waits for a concrete answer to all the questions.


Symptoms

Foreign accent syndrome is primarily described as a condition that involves change in a person’s accent. The affected tends to speak a foreign tongue accent but wouldn’t have the slightest idea why the process has been changed. This is not intentional but a condition that starts from changes in the pitch pattern, intonation, timing and spoken accent. Because of this, a native-tongued individual shall unmistakingly acquire a foreign-accent. The following are the specific description of the manifestations of foreign accent syndrome:

  • Changes in tone of speech
  • Changes in the movement of one’s tongue and jaw activity while speaking
  • Using of words that one is not commonly using. Inappropriate words may be used, that would seem to signify that they are truly from a foreign country.
  • Sentence construction seemed to be distorted for the native language has become the foreign one.

Causes

The condition is indeed considered rare in occurrence. According to studies, the problem is primarily cause by brain damage. Stroke, in most cases, is believed to cause the condition. As the brain is damaged, the effect would be changes in one’s rhythm of speech and melody. Possible causes of the condition include:

  • Cerebrovascular accident or stroke. This may cause brain hemorrhage.
  • Head trauma, blunt or sharp trauma to the patient’s skull. This may cause a concussion.
  • Multiple sclerosis

Those at risk of the condition are those prone from stroke. If a person has suffered from stroke, he or she may be at risk for another attack thus leading to this phenomenon, foreign accent syndrome.

Diagnosis

The condition can be diagnosed in various ways. There is a need for the patient to provide his or her complete medical history in order to assist in the attainment of a proper diagnosis:

  • There would be a need for a psych consult. This is indicated to rule out other conditions such as those that would suggest for psychiatric problems.
  • Assessment of the patient’s language skills, especially in speaking is necessary. Knowing the patient’s native tongue accent would assist us in identifying the occurrence of the problem.
  • Electroencephalogram – This test would assess the patient’s brain activity by assessing one’s brain electrical currents.
  • Imaging tests – This would include MRI and CT scan. The MRI would take pictures of the patient’s brain structures with the use of magnetic waves. While CT scan is like an x-ray that would visualize the structures of the brain.

Treatment

Once this has been identified by a patient, consulting one’s doctor is necessary. This would pave way for the proper treatment of the disease process and the identification of the possible root of the syndrome. Treatment if provided to patients with the following:

Speech therapy

This can help regain the patient’s ability to speak in the same manner he or she used to.

Counseling

This is needed in order to provide patient emotional assistance or support. The condition can be a root of social stigma or can provoke others, and then rejection may take place. Counseling is needed in order to not affect the patient’s emotional aspect.

Consult

One should consult a speech-language pathologist in order to attain treatment. A psychologist may be necessary to identify or rule out other conditions and so that referral may be done in order to attain wellness.

Prevention

This is attained by avoiding the risks of experiencing stroke. This can be done by doing a usual exercise regimen, having a healthy diet – avoid foods that can increase the blood pressure, and avoid or quit smoking.

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