Fritjof Norrelgen is working as a speech language pathologist at Karolinska University Hospital and has extensive experience of assessments of children with neuropsychiatric disorders. The majority of the assessments have focused on children with difficult-to-treat epilepsy. His work with this patient group has also included the development of a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) method for mapping of language networks in children prior to planned epilepsy surgery. Fritjof is also working with pre-operative language mapping with navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS) prior to neurosurgery, and with language mapping during awake neurosurgery procedures.
Currently there are two ongoing lines of research:
In one project the development of language, communicative skills and reading skills in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is examined. A group of children with ASD, without intellectual disability, were examined in pre-school age and followed up at the age of twelve regarding their language skills and reading skills. The project will provide detailed information of the development of language skills and reading and writing skills in children with ASD without intellectual disability.
Another project involves patients with low grade gliomas in the left hemisphere of the brain in or near regions critical for language processing. These patients are at risk for permanent postoperative language deficits. A method used to reduce that risk is that the patient is awake during tumor resection, a so-called sleep-awake-sleep procedure, meaning that the patient is asleep during the craniotomy, awake during the tumor resection and asleep during the closing of the skull. During the initial planning of the surgery and during the resection language functions are mapped with direct cortical electrical stimulation of the brain tissue in and around the area of the planned surgery. This allows for language eloquent brain regions to be mapped and thus permitting surgery to be performed with reduced risk of impairment of language functions. The aim of the project is to assess subtle changes post operatively of language abilities in these patients, as subtle changes of language abilities have not been well studied yet. Even small changes in language function can have a considerable impact on quality of life and on work related abilities.