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Australian woman developed an Italian accent after a stroke caused her to lose her voice

An Australian woman had a stroke and lost her ability to speak, but when her voice came back she had a thick Italian accent. 

Heather Scammell, 61, from Berwick in Melbourne, had a stroke in 2013 which caused left-sided paralysis but she had no voice issues. 

Nine months later, she collapsed and was told the damage caused by her initial stroke had increased, which caused her to lose her voice for six weeks. 

But when Mrs Scammell’s voice came back, her Australian accent was gone and instead, she had a Italian accent – which later developed into a German tone. 

Mrs Scammell was diagnosed with Foreign Accent Syndrome, which is a medical condition where patients develop speech patterns that are different from their native accent.

Heather Scammell (middle), 61, from Berwick in Melbourne, Victoria had a stroke in 2013 which caused left-sided paralysis but she had no voice issues

‘My speech alters between accents, but has never gone back to my Aussie accent,’ Mrs Scammell told Daily Mail Australia. 

She has also developed Dyspraxia, which makes coordinated movement difficult and affects her speech.

‘I become fatigued, my speech becomes very jumbled and at times unintelligible.’  

Mrs Scammell said Foreign Accent Syndrome in conjunction with Dyspraxia has greatly affected her life.  

‘I can no longer work and I get very fatigued,’ she said. 

‘Speaking for a length of time wears me out and I no longer can explain like an Aussie.

‘My speech is now very foreign and I become very intolerant of people who do not enunciate properly.’ 

Nine months after her initial stroke, she collapsed and was told the damage from her stroke had increased which caused her to lose her voice for six weeks

Nine months after her initial stroke, she collapsed and was told the damage from her stroke had increased which caused her to lose her voice for six weeks

Mrs Scammell contacted a retired professor in the UK who specialises in speech anomalies to try and understand why she has Foreign Accent Syndrome, but he could not provide an answer.

‘Initially, my neurologist told me my old voice would return,’ Mrs Scammell said. 

‘But the professor said if you have not got your old voice back in six months you will never get it back.’ 

Though Mrs Scammell’s life has changed since her stroke, she still loves her life. 

‘I’m glad I’m still here and hope to be around for a long time yet,’ she said. 

‘I love life It took a while initially to accept my lot but I have a great husband and wonderful family and friends around me so life is good.’ 

But when Mrs Scammell's voice came back, her Australian accent was gone and instead, she had a thick Italian accent which eventually developed into a German accent

But when Mrs Scammell’s voice came back, her Australian accent was gone and instead, she had a thick Italian accent which eventually developed into a German accent

A Tasmanian woman also developed Foreign Accent Syndrome in 2013 after suffering a serious injury in a car crash.

Ms Rowe first started speaking in what sounds like a French accent when she woke up in Melbourne’s Austin Hospital with a broken back and jaw.

She told the ABC: ‘It makes me so angry because I am Australian. I am not French, I do not have anything against the French people.’

A Tasmanian woman also developed Foreign Accent Syndrome in 2013 after suffering a serious injury in a car crash. Leanne Rowe (middle) first started speaking in what sounds like a French accent when she woke up in Melbourne's Austin Hospital with a broken back and jaw

A Tasmanian woman also developed Foreign Accent Syndrome in 2013 after suffering a serious injury in a car crash. Leanne Rowe (middle) first started speaking in what sounds like a French accent when she woke up in Melbourne’s Austin Hospital with a broken back and jaw

Foreign Accent Syndrome tends to develop as a result of a head trauma, migraine or developmental problems.

There have only ever been 150 confirmed cases of Foreign Accent Syndrome in the world so far.

Foreign Accent Syndrome has been documented in cases around the world, including accent changes from Japanese to Korean, British English to French, American-English to British English, and Spanish to Hungarian.

FOREIGN ACCENT SYNDROME 

Foreign Accent Syndrome is speech disorder that causes a sudden change to speech so that a native speaker is perceived to speak with a “foreign” accent. 

Foreign Accent Syndrome is most often caused by damage to the brain caused by a stroke or traumatic brain injury. 

Other causes have also been reported including multiple sclerosis and conversion disorder.

In some cases no clear cause has been identified.

Speech may be altered in terms of timing, intonation, and tongue placement, so that is perceived as sounding foreign.

Listeners can usually still understand the sufferer’s speech; it does not necessarily sound disordered.

Foreign Accent Syndrome has been documented in cases around the world, including accent changes from Japanese to Korean, British English to French, American-English to British English, and Spanish to Hungarian.

There have only ever been 150 confirmed cases of Foreign Accent Syndrome in the world so far. 

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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