INTRODUCTION: Autoimmune neurological diseases (ANDs) are a specific type of autoimmune disease that affect cells within the central and peripheral nervous system. ANDs trigger various physical/neuropsychiatric symptoms. However, language impairments in people with ANDs are not well characterized. Here we aimed to determine the kinds of language impairment that most commonly emerge in 10 ANDs, the characteristics of the patients (demographic, neurological damage), and the assessment methods used.
METHODS: We followed the PRISMA Extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR). PubMed and Google Scholar were searched. We used a list of search terms containing 10 types of ANDs (e.g., multiple sclerosis, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis) in combination with the terms aphasia, dysphasia, fluency, language, listening, morphology, phonology, pragmatics, reading, semantics, speaking, syntax, writing. The reference lists and citations of the relevant papers were also investigated. The type of AND, patient characteristics, neurological damage and examination technique, language tests administered, and main findings were noted for each study meeting the inclusion criteria.
RESULTS: We found 171 studies meeting our inclusion criteria. These comprised group studies and case studies. Language impairments differed largely among types of ANDs. Neurological findings were mentioned in most of the papers, but specific language tests were rarely used.
CONCLUSIONS: Language symptoms in people with ANDs are commonly reported. These are often not full descriptions or only focus on specific time points in the course of the disease. Future research needs to assess specific language functions in people with ANDs and relate their language impairments to brain damage at different stages of disease evolution.