A Geordie woman woke up after suffering a stroke and started speaking with a Jamaican accent.

Linda Walker came round in hospital to discover her distinctive North-east twang had disappeared.

The former university administrator, from Newcastle, is suffering from a case of foreign accent syndrome, where patients wake up speaking differently after suffering a brain injury.

Ms Walker, 60, told the Evening Chronicle: "I got very down about it at first. It is so strange because you don't feel like the same person. I didn't realise what I sounded like but then my speech therapist played a tape of me talking. I was just devastated."

On the telephone she sounds like she has a Jamaican accent but other people have said it is eastern European.

Researchers at Oxford University have found that patients with foreign accent syndrome have suffered damage to areas of the brain that affect speech.

The result is often a drawing out or clipping of the vowels that mimic the accent of a particular country, such as Spain or France, even though the sufferer has limited exposure to that accent. The syndrome was first identified during the Second World War when a Norwegian woman suffered shrapnel damage to her brain. She developed a German accent, which led to her being ostracised by her community.

Nick Miller, a senior lecturer in speech language science at Newcastle University, said the condition could occur in patients who had suffered a stroke or other brain injury.

"It is not such a rare condition and I probably come across four or five cases a year," he said.

"The accent varies from ear to ear. Two people could hear the same accent and one would say it was Jamaican and the other east European.

"At our clinic we offer speech therapy and rehabilitation to patients, which can help people come to terms with the condition."