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Head Injury Leaves Australian Woman With Permanent French Accent [Video]

Update Date: Jun 17, 2013 03:13 PM EDT
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An Australian woman started speaking in a strong French accent after suffering severe head injuries in a car crash.

Leanne Rowe, who is one of just 62 people in the world with "foreign accent syndrome", says the rare condition has left her feeling anxious and depressed.

Rowe's painful ordeal began eight years ago, when she woke up in Melbourne's Austin Hospital with a broken back and jaw after having been in a serious car accident, according to the Herald Sun.

However, as her jaw began to heal and she started speaking properly she noted that she was slurring her words.

"Slowly, as my jaw started to heal, they said that I was slurring my words because I was on very powerful tablets," Rowe told ABC.

While all her injuries eventually healed, she said the slurring turned into a permanent French accent. She said that the bizarre condition still hasn't faded and her French accent is as strong as ever.

While Rowe, who was a member of the Army Reserves before the crash, is slowly coming to terms with her condition, she said it has left her feeing anxious and depressed.

"It makes me so angry because I am Australian. I am not French, I do not have anything against the French people," she told ABC News.

Rowe's daughter Kate Mundy, who now does the majority of speaking for her mother in public, said that the condition has "greatly" affected her mother's life.

"It has affected her life greatly. People see the funny side of it, and think it's really interesting, I mean, it is interesting but I've seen the impacts on mom's life," Mundy said.

Rowe's doctor believes his patient suffers from the Foreign Accent Syndrome, something of which he admits he's never seen.

"She turned up after having a nasty head injury eight years ago speaking with a French accent - I couldn't believe my ears. She'd done French at school but she'd never been to France, didn't have any French friends at all," Dr. Robert Newton told ABC News.

Rowe is one of just 62 people to be diagnosed with the Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS), which causes people to develop an accent different from their native way of speaking, in the last 70 years, according to the Daily Mail.

Karen Croot, a FAS expert, says that the extremely rare condition is caused by damaged tissue in the area of the brain that controls speech. While it may sound like Rowe is speaking in a French accent, Croot explains that the accent is just an accident because her speech just happens to sound similar to the language.

"It's just an accident of chance that happens to that person that what happens to their speech happens to overlap with the features of a known accent," she told ABC News.

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