18-16 Segment 2: Foreign Accent Syndrome

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In a medical emergency that results in a brain injury, such as a stroke, there are a number of health complications that can affect the patient afterward. One of the more well-known subsequent results is aphasia which is the impairment of speech and language. However, many people do not know that once the aphasia wears off, the patient may still be left with an accent. This sudden change in speaking is actually a syndrome known as foreign accent syndrome. However, Dr. Jack Ryalls, Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at University of Central Florida, explains that research has proven that these patients’ new way of speaking is actually not an accent. Furthermore, Dr. Sheila Blumstein, Albert D. Mead Professor of Cognitive Linguistics and Psychological Sciences at Brown University, states that people will perceive these as foreign accents, but in actuality, people who suffer from foreign accent syndrome have only developed slight variations in how they pronounce words which indicates to those listening to them that they have an accent.

So, what happens to those who suffer from foreign accent syndrome? Dr. Ryalls explains that chances of recovery are very slim–only about 30% are able to recover their old accent because therapy has been proven to not be beneficial. Along with this, people with foreign accent syndrome are likely to experience distress. Dr. Blumstein states that how an individual sounds and speaks contributes a lot to their self-identity, so it can affect a person’s perception of oneself. This distress can be furthered, too, by a change in how they are identified in the world. Dr. Blumstein explains that foreign accent syndrome can be isolating because many people will view this person as being from a foreign country. While many people do not recover, some are able to regain their old accents. Researchers have been looking into cases of recovery in order to improve the chances of recovery for others who suffer from foreign accent syndrome.

Guest:

  • Dr. Sheila Blumstein, Albert D. Mead Professor of Cognitive Linguistics and Psychological Sciences at Brown University
  • Dr. Jack Ryalls, Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Central Florida

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Medical Notes 17-12

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Medical Notes this week…

People who’ve gone to the hospital for treatment of a mental health disorder have an increased risk of stroke for months afterward. A study presented to the International Stroke Conference in Houston shows that people going to the hospital for psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety and PTSD have triple the risk of a stroke in the next month and double the risk for the next year or more. Scientists speculate that mental illness may provoke the body’s “fight or flight” mechanism which can raise blood pressure and stroke risk.

Early risers may be healthier than people who sleep in. A study in the journal Obesity shows that early birds tend to eat more balanced diets than night owls. They also eat earlier in the day, which helps with weight loss and lowers the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

And finally, many Americans are working from home at least part of the time and a new poll shows we like it that way. However, a little bit of office camaraderie is a good thing. The Gallup survey finds that 43 percent of employees work remotely at least part of the time and that the most engaged workers are those who spend three to four days a week working from home. People who work in the office all the time or at home all the time are the least engaged employees.

And that’s Medical Notes this week.

15-17 Story 2: Neuroplasticity

 

Synopsis: Since the dawn of medicine, doctors have believed that, once injured, the brain could not heal. Now they’ve learned that the brain can heal, and are beginning to tap ways to make it heal better and faster. Experts explain.

Host: Nancy Benson. Guests: Dr. Norman Doidge, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research and author, The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries From the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity; Dr. Edward Taub, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Alabama, Birmingham and Director, UAB Taub Training Clinic

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Click here for the transcript.