Former nurse Amy Hobbs has been diagnosed with Foreign Accent Syndrome which caused her to speak in first a Jamaican and then Irish accent after suffering a stroke and a spinal cord injury.
A former nurse in Virginia has been diagnosed with Foreign Accent Syndrome after she began speaking in an Irish accent having suffered a traumatic brain injury, a stroke and a spinal cord injury.
Amy Hobbs was in a devastating car crash in 2010, which violently shook her head and has greatly affected her memory. She has not been able to return to her own job looking after stroke victims since the texting driver failed to see the traffic stop and rammed into her.
"The day after my accident, I remember the neurologist coming into my room and pointing to his tie and saying, 'what is this?' And, I did not know. And I was terrified. I knew something wasn't right, but I didn't know what it was," Hobbs told WUSA9.
Undergoing surgery after her accident, she woke up speaking in what sounded like a Jamaican accent, the accent later evolving to sound more Irish, despite Hobbs having never been to either of these countries.
"When I woke up from the surgery, I had an accent, which actually sounded Jamaican at the time," said Hobbs.
"When you have a brain injury, and you're under anesthesia, that's typically when the Foreign Accent Syndrome comes out...And it's an accent, typically, of a place you've not been. I've not been to Ireland, so I don't have somebody around me that has an Irish accent. I didn't have anybody around me that had a Jamaican accent."
Foreign Accent Syndrome is extremely rare but while it sounds like you have acquired a new nationality, it is really down to the way in which your brain functions have been altered by an injury.
"She had a mild apraxia, which means that the signals from your brain aren't being interpreted by your muscles appropriately,” explained Sarah Pickford, an assistive technology and cognitive rehabilitation specialist with Brain Injury Services in Springfield, Va.
“A lot of people have apraxia without it sounding like a foreign accent. But part of that is that movements become more difficult because your brain isn't sending the correct signals to your muscles."
While the accent is the most noticeable part of Hobbs’ injury, her memory functions are the aspect most affecting her life.Unable to work, she continues to recover at home with the help of her family.