A case of foreign accent syndrome

Ashley X. Tran, Lisa D Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Foreign accent syndrome is a rare but potentially devastating clinical condition associated with altered speech rhythm and prosody, often occurring after a cerebral vascular accident. Missing this diagnosis can lead to delayed stroke work-up and treatment. Objective: We report a case of foreign accent syndrome in a 60-year-old woman who presented to the Emergency Department (ED) with 3 weeks of altered speech pattern, widened gait, bilateral leg heaviness, and mild headache. Case Report: The patient had a history of Type 2 diabetes, malignant hypertension, toxic nodular goiter, and hyperlipidemia. She initially presented to the ED at the onset of symptoms, was thought to have had speech change secondary to a goiter impinging on the recurrent laryngeal nerve, and was discharged. She returned to the ED 3 weeks later when outpatient imaging revealed subacute infarction of the left hemi-pons and absent flow within the left vertebral artery. On examination, the patient was alert and conversational. She spoke fluently with an accent that had components of Jamaican and the accent of an Italian speaking English. Neurology was consulted and the patient was admitted. The patient was treated medically, and was discharged home with primary care follow-up. She developed a second, more significant stroke 1 month later, with unilateral weakness and slurred speech in the middle cerebral artery distribution. Conclusion: Clinicians should be aware that some stroke patients present with various atypical symptoms, and should suspect stroke in any patient with acute-onset neurological symptoms, including speech change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-29
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • Cerebrovascular accident
  • Foreign accent syndrome
  • Pseudo-foreign accent
  • Speech change
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Medicine(all)


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