Why a Traumatic Brain Injury can Cause Foreign Accent Syndrome

Some patients with a traumatic brain injury can develop a mysterious syndrome known as foreign accent syndrome (FAS). Patients have a sudden change in speech where they begin to speak with a “foreign accent.” The cause is often a traumatic brain injury caused by a stroke but can also occur from other neurological disorders.


What Causes Foreign Accent Syndrome?

Commonly caused by a traumatic brain injury (TBI), other disorders such as multiple sclerosis and conversion disorder may cause the syndrome. Conversion disorder is a neurological condition where a person can have symptoms including: 

  • Blindness
  • Paralysis
  • Other nervous symptoms not explained by a medical evaluation

The cause is lesions in the dominant parts of the brain that impact normal phonetic speech. Pronunciation can be perceived as a foreign accent. 


How Does Foreign Accent Present in Patients with a TBI?

Patients with FAS have altered speech. Their timing, intonation, and tongue placement may make others perceive that they are speaking a foreign language. Other areas of speech may remain intact. 

It is a rare disorder with only 100 reported cases since first discovered in the 1940s. Yet, there have been documented cases across the world. Some examples of accent changes include:

  • American accent to a British accent
  • A Japanese accent to a Korean accent
  • British accent to a French accent
  • Spanish accent to a Hungarian accent



What are the common Speech Changes Associated with Foreign Accent Syndrome?

Some speech changes are commonly associated with FAS. Patients have predictable errors in speech. They may have voicing errors such as saying “bike” for “pike.” They may insert “uh” in between words spoken. 

Some patients have vowel distortions or consonant clusters where vowels are excluded from the words spoken. Or they have consonant substitution, deletion, or distortion. 

Often the errors in speech become predictable with time, so speech therapists can work with patients to correct the errors in speech.

How Rehabilitation for Brain Injury Can Help Treat Foreign Accent Syndrome

If you are searching for neurorehabilitation near me in Florida or the Southeast, then consider Neulife for the care of your loved ones. 

NeuLife knows every injury is different and comes with its own unique set of symptoms. Every patient has their own set of challenges. When it comes to FAS, we have a team who can help treat the symptoms and restore speech to as normal as possible. 

Our experience and knowledge in treating TBIs are the force behind the individualized care we provide to our patients. 

The center offers a full spectrum of services for patients who have experienced a traumatic brain injury, and brain injuries due to stroke. 

The program at Neulife will address the specific needs of every patient and their family. The team focuses on maximizing the potential of patients to gain ability, mobility, and improved speech.

If your loved one requires a post-acute rehabilitation center after a TBI, schedule a tour around our modern, patient-friendly facility. We look forward to seeing you soon! We are also always happy to answer questions so, please reach out to us at 1-888-626-3876.


The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.


Dedicated to providing the highest caliber of care to individuals with brain injuries, NeuLife Rehabilitation is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).
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