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Sunday, June 5, 2011


Oregan woman develops foreign accent after surgery


In this June 2, 2011 photo, Karen Butler gets a big hug from her husband, Glen Butler at her office in Newport, Ore.  In late 2009, she developed foreAP – In this June 2, 2011 photo, Karen Butler gets a big hug from her husband, Glen Butler at her office in …
SALEM, Ore. – Karen Butler has a British-sounding accent, but she's never been to Europe. She woke up from dental surgery one day talking funny. A year and a half later her "foreign" accent remains, and her story has traveled around the world.
The 56-year-old tax consultant from Toledo, Ore. has found her life transformed by the dental procedure, which left her with dentures, and — depending on whom you ask — an Eastern European, Swedish or British accent.
Butler had all her top teeth and front bottom teeth removed in November 2009 because of gingivitis. A week later the swelling had gone away, but she still sounded strange. Her dentist told her she just had to get used to her new teeth.
But as weeks stretched on with no change, Butler did some online research. She diagnosed herself with Foreign Accent Syndrome, a medical condition with only a few dozen documented cases.
The syndrome is often the result of brain injury; though it is uncommon, most neurologists will see at least one case in their career, said Dr. Helmi Lutsep, professor and vice-chair of the Department of Neurology at Oregon Health & Science University. Sometimes a person just sounds slightly off; other times there may be a more dramatic-sounding accent, Lutsep said.
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