Thursday, July 28, 2005

Stroke of fluency

There are some pretty puzzling and seemingly paradoxical phenomena that I regularly come across when looking at PDS, but probably the most striking effect is elimination or severe reduction in stuttering due to a brain injury, e.g. a stroke, an accident, or victim of violence! Yes, victim of violence...

Per Alm reports on a conversation with an older Swedish man who is forever grateful to "his" burglar that attacked him in his own house!! Apparently, he surprised the burglar at his home, got hit on the head, and spent several days in hospital. And afterwards, he was much more fluent, and had been ever since. So you can imagine how grateful the man was to his burglar!

If there are any burglars reading this blog, my address is 9, rue Donven, 4084 Esch-Alzette, Luxembourg. Feel free to pass by, and hit me on the head. We have a dog, but she shouldn't be of any concern to you. She is 10 years old, and cant walk well anymore. And she is highly corruptible by food.... ;-)

But seriously, I am amazed by such effects, especially about the ability of PDS sufferers to quickly go into fluency mode be it with chorus reading, or after a stroke. Of course, such case studies as the one reported by Per need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Was the man's speech really affected? Or was it just his memory of his fluency before the incident? A check with relatives of the men would certainly build up a stronger case. However, I have seen several of such reports, where older men had strokes and become much more fluent permanently. So there is probably something to this effect.


Pablo said...

Hi Tom.

Really interesting. Also, there is the neurogenic stuttering, were a fluent person becomes a stutterer due to a brain stroke. Anyway, I would not take the risk of letting a burglar into my house. He migth kill me (at least, I will never stutter again!).

Pablo. Spain.

PD. I see you like S. Pinker. Have you read "The blank slate" I liked it very much.

Tom Weidig said...

Hi Pablo,

yes, neurogenic stuttering is also interesting, but as fluent speech is a brain function, some strokes will affect this function. So if someone breaks, it is fluency that breaks down. But here something breaks down in the brain and fluency emerges...

So you are also a fan of Pinker. What do you do in real life?


Pablo said...

Hi Tom.

I am Electronics Engineer. I am 36. I stutter since 3. Yes, I like Pinker. I have not read "How the mind works", but "The blank slate" is one of my favourite books.


Learus said...


I'm a 57 year old stutterer from the US. I have never spoken of stuttering and it's effects to anyone except my wife. I guess it is like the "Elephant in the corner".

I have good days and bad. I hate the phone. I love the phone. I can sing but not speak...very surreal at times.

Anyway. I just wanted to say hello.

Tom Weidig said...

Hi Learus,

Thx for your message.

Why dont you join the other elephants who came out of their corner? :-)

Here is the list of the US self-help groups. Most of the meetings are very informal and they are just meeting up in a pub or community centre, to have a chat every month or so...

I think such groups are very useful in putting things in perspective... and get to know other people who stutter and see how they deal with it.

Give it a try! :-)

Best wishes,