Protracted and incomplete language recovery from SMART syndrome: a case report

Karen Hux, Cyrielle Andrew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Stroke-like migraine attacks after radiation therapy–also known as SMART syndrome–constitute a rare condition characterised by headache, seizures, vision abnormalities, hemiparesis, and aphasia. The condition usually resolves within a few days or weeks with little to no residual impairment; however, recovery in some cases is protracted and incomplete. Aims: The purpose of this case report was to describe the one-year progression of language in a person, GB, with slow recovery from SMART syndrome. Methods & Procedures: GB was diagnosed with SMART syndrome at 39 years of age. Formal and informal assessments occurred at six, 11, 18, 29, and 52 weeks post-onset of SMART syndrome. Standardised assessment involved administration of portions of the Western Aphasia Battery–Revised, and informal assessment took the form of written and spoken language sample analyses. Outcomes & Results: Initial evaluation at two weeks post-onset revealed global aphasia. This evolved into severe Wernicke’s aphasia by six weeks post-onset. Repeated evaluation over subsequent months revealed gradual improvement but continuing and substantial language impairment. At one-year post-onset, GB displayed anomic aphasia and persistent reading and writing deficits. Conclusions: Substantial language recovery from SMART syndrome can occur beyond the initial few months post-onset. Documentation of the nature and extent of language impairment provides a starting point for developing and refining efficacious treatment protocols.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1001-1023
Number of pages23
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2021


  • Aphasia
  • language recovery
  • migraines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • LPN and LVN


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