Rory Curtis was a 25-year-old soccer star in Great Britain. He played for Manchester United’s youth team. A career as a pro soccer player was going to happen for him. Unfortunately, in August 2012, his future was put on hold.
When Rory was driving home from practice one night, a severe rainstorm hit. It was raining so hard that he had almost no visibility to see the road ahead. He wanted to get home, so he decided to drive on. The rain was beating down on his windshield, which made it impossible for him to see the large cargo truck that moved into his lane. He tried to hit the brakes, but it was too late.
A six-car pileup occurred, and Rory’s car was at the bottom. Firefighters on the scene worked for an hour to get him out of the vehicle. When they did, he was still alive. He had some bruising and swelling, but the EMTs were sure that there was more to Rory’s injuries, so they had a helicopter come to take him to a nearby hospital.
It turned out that the EMTs made the right call. Rory had suffered a multifocal intracranial brain hemorrhage. His brain was swelling, and blood was filling in his head. The doctors had to put him in a medically induced coma. Because his injuries were so severe, the doctors weren’t sure how long he would remain in the coma. His family prepared him for a rough road ahead.
Six Days Later
Rory’s family and his doctors were shocked when after just six days, he woke up from his coma. When he woke up, the doctors gave him an exam, and he seemed to have no lasting effects from the injuries. It wasn’t until he opened his mouth that the doctors discovered that something had changed in Rory.
When Rory started speaking, he was speaking French fluently. The doctors thought that it was his first language, so they didn’t think much of it. They went to tell his family that he was awake, not knowing that his speaking French was odd. When Rory’s parents got to his hospital room, the doctor asked which side of the family was French. The family was puzzled by the question because neither was French and they didn’t speak the language.
9th Grade French
Rory’s family was shocked that he was speaking fluent French. Nobody in his family spoke the language. The only training that he had was in his 9th grade French class, and he didn’t get good grades in the class. He was barely able to grasp the basics of the language. How was he able to speak it fluently now?
Foreign Language Syndrome
Rory didn’t just speak the language; he had such a strong accent that the French nurses thought that it was his first language. The doctors got together to discuss this puzzling case and finally determined that he had Foreign Language Syndrome.
If Rory speaking French was strange, another symptom that he was exhibiting was even more bizarre. He was convinced that he was Hollywood A-lister, Matthew McConaughey. He was so sure that he was Matthew, that he asked the doctors when he would be discharged so that he could get back to filming. When he looked in the mirror, he saw Matthew’s face staring back at him.
When Rory began exhibiting these symptoms, his parents were approached by the Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre. They offered his parents a treatment, yet there was no guarantee that it would work. They gave him medication to treat his condition, and after a few months of rehab, he was able to go home. Soon, he realized that he wasn’t Matthew McConaughey. What didn’t change was his Foreign Language Syndrome. He was still able to speak French fluently, which was odd because most people with this condition eventually forget the new language as they recover.
Rory had to give up his dream of playing professional soccer. Today, he is working as a barber in his hometown. He is still able to speak French, and the doctors don’t know if it will be permanent. If anything is accident saved him on years of French lessons. His case was pretty amazing. This man wakes up from a coma with a strange new skill that has his entire family puzzled. It had the whole medical community puzzled as well. Head injuries often cause a number of short-term and long-term symptoms; however, Rory’s were very unusual. Fortunately, he knows now that he is Rory, and he isn’t going to try to move into Matthew McConaughey’s home.