mBilingual people are better protected against stroke, finds study

In a new finding, researchers have revealed that bilingual people are twice likely to have normal cognition behaviour soon after strokes when compared to their single language speaking counterparts. People who speak two more languages like in India (Hindi and English or any other regional language) perform better post strokes when it comes to organising information and cognitive function while no such difference was recorded with speaking, reading and writing after a stroke.

For the study, researchers from India and United Kingdom, analysed records of 608 patients who suffered stroke from 2006-2013. Nearly 50 percent of the patients spoke two languages. Study authors also took account into factors which affect stroke like smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and age. It was found that nearly 40 percent of the bilingual people were able to cope and had normal cognitive functions after a stroke while only 20 percent of the single language speaking participants showed better attention and normal cognitive behaviour post strokes.

However, researchers noticed no such difference among bilinguals and single language speaking stroke patients when it came to communication functions like speech, reading and writing. Stroke patients experience aphasia, a disorder that affects communication functions soon after a stroke. While explaining, study authors said bilingual people constantly switch language throughout their life which improves their executive functions. Improved executive function acts as a protective layer for two language speaking people soon after the stroke and linguistic skills do not play any role in improving cognitive functioning.

However, study authors pointed out that results might not be applicable on the global scale since the study was conducted on a small scale that too in the city of Hyderabad where people speak many languages like Hindi, English, Telugu, etc. Study on a larger scale is required to prove the findings.

The study appeared in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

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