A 94-year-old Chinese woman woke up from a coma only speaking English – losing her ability to speak or understand her native language, Mandarin.
Liu Jaiyu, a former English teacher, was rushed to the hospital after suffering a cerebral infarction and subsequently fell into a coma.
She later woke up from it asking, “Where am I? What is happening?” in perfect English.
She had not spoken a single world of English in more than 30 years after retiring from teaching.
Liu is suffering from a paralysis of all of her limbs and an “obstacle” to her language functions, Dr. Li Yanfang says. “It seems the part of her brain responsible for her mother tongue has been damaged, however the part that uses English has been preserved."
While some patients do develop a new accent after suffering a stroke, Liu’s case is unique because she has taken on an already-learned language.
The doctors believe, however, that she will go back to speaking her native tongue.
“Brain cells have an ability to repair themselves to a certain extent ... We would hope to see at least some improvement,” medic Tao Hou said. “We anticipate with proper rehabilitation and rest she should regain the ability to speak Chinese.”