Bilingual People Recovers from Stroke Faster, Study Says

Nov 26, 2015 03:50 PM EST | By Florence May P. Jose

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Here's one more reason why you should learn a new language: 40% of stroke patients who are bilingual tend to recover faster than 20% of those who can only speak one.

A new study found out that those who can speak and understand more language are more likely to regain their cognitive functions, paving their way to faster recovery.

Students from the Edinburgh University, along with the Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), conducted series of tests and experiments on over 600 stroke patients in Hyderabad, India, one of the most diverse cities in the country, culturally and linguistically speaking.

In their paper, published in the American Heart Association journal "Stroke", the team stated that their conclusion "support the notion of a protective role of bilingualism in the development of post-stroke cognitive impairment". Their study determined that the percentage of patients with 'intact cognitive impairment functions post-stroke was more than twice as high in bilinguals than the monolinguals'.

Their research, funded by the Indian Council of Medical Research, is the pioneer study of relating the number of language a patient knows to their cognitive capabilities after stroke. Their study also believes that taking the challenge of learning how to speak and understand more language, the better our brain's cognitive reserve be developed-lessening the possible damage that could be incurred from stroke or dementia.

"People tend to think of Alzheimer's as the only cause of dementia, but they need to know that stroke is also an important cause," said senior investigator Subhash Kaul from NIMS.

Co-author Thomas Bak, from the University of Edinburgh's School Of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences also expressed that "Bilingualism makes people switch from one language to another, so while they inhibit one language, they have to activate another to communicate. This switching offers practically constant brain training which may be a factor in helping stroke patients recover."

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