Traumatic brain injuries can do curious things to the brain. While doctors are all too familiar with comas, cognitive deficiencies, vision problems, motor issues, headaches, and long-term behavioral issues, as well as the numerous other common symptoms of moderate to severe TBI, sometimes TBI patients come out of their injury with conditions that are much more rare. Just ask Sharon Campbell-Rayment.
Campbell-Rayment, a 50-year-old Canadian mother of two, fell off a horse in 2008. When she awoke, she suffered frm a bad stutter that took eight weeks of intensive speech therapy to repair. But, the therapy couldn’t fix her new accent.
Campbell-Rayment is one of a select number of brain injury cases which have been cited as the cause of foreign accent syndrome, a rare condition in which a person’s natural accent is suddenly changed to another accent unrelated to their location. Sharon Campbell-Rayment spent the majority of her life with a Canadian accent, but she has sounded Scottish ever since her injury.
There are only 60 documented cases of foreign accent syndrome in the entire world, and very little is known about the condition other than its association with traumatic brain injuries or stroke. Some believe there is a connection with multiple sclerosis as well.
As Celia Carr reports, it is unknown whether this condition changes a person’s tone to a specific accent decided by the intricate nature of the incident, or if the condition is based on matters of timing, intonation, and tongue placement following an injury.
Sharon Campbell-Rayment has taken her new accent in stride however. Rather than being nostalgic for her old speech sounds, the Canadian mother has taken her new accent as motivation for reconnecting with her Scottish cultural heritage.
“I could have ended up with any accent – French, Spanish, even Klingon – but I got Scottish. It was definitely a sign,” she said. “The accident has completely turned my life around. I strongly believe it was a message telling me this is how things were meant to be.”
Sharon does still suffer from other long-term reminders of her injury. She experiences extreme sensitivity to light, as well as severe headaches and anxiety when in large crowds. She also has difficulty in decision making, concentration, and problem solving. But, she refuses to be held back.
She has been able to start riding horses again, and she has turned her riding retreat into a therapy center for people who are currently recovering from brain injuries. She also hopes to finish a book by the end of the year so she can share her experiences with others dealing with head injuries.