The life skill that can help you recover twice as quickly from a stroke

Everyone who suffers a stroke is affected differently, with widely varying rates of recovery. But now a new study has

Everyone who suffers a stroke is affected differently, with widely varying rates of recovery. But now a new study has shown that a highly desirable skill could be the key to a better outcome after a stroke, and if you don’t already have this skill you can start developing it right now.

An examination of the recovery rates of people who had had a stroke in Hyderabad, India, showed that those who were bilingual recovered twice as well as those who only spoke one language.

The study was carried out by a team from the University of Edinburgh and Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad, and the researchers found that around 40 per cent of bilingual patients had normal mental function following a stroke, compared with 20 per cent of single language patients.

The stroke patients were assessed on attention skills and the ability to retrieve and organise information.

Researchers took into account lifestyle factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and age to ensure results could not be attributed to having a healthier lifestyle, but still the results showed that bilingual people fared better after stroke.

Other studies have previously shown that people who speak more than one language develop dementia several years later than people who speak one.

It’s believed the mental challenge of speaking multiple languages can boost what’s called cognitive reserve – an improved ability of the brain to cope with damaging events such as stroke or dementia. Switching from one language to another provides the opportunity for ongoing brain training, which is believed to help stroke patients recover.

Stroke is the second most important cause of cognitive disability after dementia.

More research is needed to determine the exact circumstances under which bilingualism can have a positive influence on mental functions.

Do you speak another language? Would you like to learn one – or are you currently studying? Say hello in the languages you know!

  1. Bonjour! I have always envied people who speak more than one language and have tried to learn several in my life time. Now I perhaps have an additional reason to envy them, having never really succeeded beyond learning a hand full of French words. This is interesting research which should give us a great deal of useful information about brain function and how to recover it when lost – cant walk if your brain doesnt function!

  2. All these studies…..don’t know which to take note of…… a study has found that the faster you walk away from a tsunami the better your chance of surviving….

    • Gloria, I like your comment – certainly changes the topic & keeps one thinking. I’m right on the water & have a exit kit ready – but looks like I may have to think about getting some waterproof walking shoes & keep my fitness up too!

    • Allison Hulse Yes Allison, I am just one street back from the water and I think I’d better make a plan too. Might get a bike to get away faster. Too bad if it comes in the middle of the night though when we are fast asleep. Happy Chrismas anyway.

  3. My best friend’s brother had a stroke a few years ago now, in his early 60s, and he will never be right again. He is in an extremely bad way.

  4. Everyone in South Africa had two languages and a smattering of an African language also! Do hope that helps!

  5. Careful if in your 80’s cause my mum was ignored because there were younger ones and she was old. War Vet, nurse and needing help none came. 6 months of living hell as a vegetable. Will never forget that.

  6. I wonder if those that are bilingual have received a better education, which permitted a better income, which in turn provided better health care. Just thinking.

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