Texas Woman Develops British Accent After Surgery

Published June 24, 2016
Updated February 10, 2017

A Texas woman who underwent jaw surgery then developed a rare neurological disorder that gave her a British accent.

Lisa Alamia needed jaw surgery to fix a serious overbite. The surgery itself ended up going well, but the British accent was quite a surprise.

The Houston native said that she used to be able to say tamales “like a real Hispanic girl.” Now, her voice is unfamiliar even to her daughter.

At first, her surgeon assured her that accent change would go away on its own, as she healed from the surgery. Months passed though, and there was no change.

Then, Alamia visited neurologist Toby Yaltho at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Neurology Associates, who diagnosed her with a rare disorder called Foreign Accent Syndrome.

“This is a fascinating and very rare case. Most neurologists work their entire careers and never come across FAS,” Yaltho said.

Usually, patients develop FAS after a stroke or traumatic brain injury. However, Yaltho said that Alamia’s MRI came back “normal” — she showed no signs of any brain damage.

French neurologist Pierre Marie discovered the speech disorder in 1907. Since then, only 100 people have ever been diagnosed with it. There’s no known cure for FAS, and the condition can persist for months or even years.

Meanwhile, Alamia is undergoing speech therapy in an attempt to revert back to her true voice.

Next, find out more about unusual medical disorders. Then, read about diseases you might be able to catch on the NYC subway.

Elisabeth Sherman
Elisabeth Sherman is a writer living in Jersey City, New Jersey.
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