What is Aphasia? Bruce Willis, diagnosed with Aphasia, is stepping away from performing


Bruce Willis’ decision to end his film career spanning more than 40 years after an aphasia diagnosis has brought light to the rare condition.

Aphasia is a neurologic condition that hinders people’s ability to communicate either verbally or via writing. It is a problem that affects approximately 2 million people across the U.S., and nearly 180,000 suffer from it each year, as per the National Aphasia Association.

Willis”s daughter Rumer Willis posted on Wednesday on Instagram that her condition had caused her dad to lose his “cognitive abilities.”

“As a result of this and with much consideration, Bruce is stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him,” the article said.


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Rumer Willis’s mother, starlet Demi Moore also joined in the post.

The most prevalent reason for Aphasia is damage caused by strokes. However, it could also be the outcome of an injury to the head, a brain tumor, infection, or even a degenerative condition such as Alzheimer’s.

Willis, his family didn’t provide details on the cause of his Aphasia.

Willis, an Emmy-winning actress and the lead in popular films like “Die Hard” and “The Sixth Sense,” was born 67 earlier this month.

What is the cause of Aphasia?

According to the National Institutes of Health, Aphasia is caused by the damage that occurs in one or several brain regions involved with the language process.

Aphasia typically occurs following trauma to the head or stroke that cuts off the blood flow to regions of the brain responsible for speech, explained Dr. Adam Boxer, a neurology professor at the University of California, San Francisco.

There are other times, Boxer said, Aphasia can be a gradual onset condition that occurs due to the development of brain cancer, neurologic disease, or infection.

“Many people have a prolonged and insidious onset of aphasia,” Boxer explained.

What are the symptoms of Aphasia?

Aphasia’s symptoms can vary in severity, as do the symptoms. However, in the worst instances, the condition could “make communication with the patient almost impossible,” according to theĀ National Aphasia Association.

If it’s mild, Aphasia can affect only one aspect of language. A person who has mild Aphasia might not be capable of recalling specific names for objects, for instance, or may struggle to comprehend or piece words together in clear sentences.

As most people suffer from mild memory loss as they get older, Boxer said that mild Aphasia is difficult to recognize: “Is it just aging, or something else?”

Can Aphasia be treated?

Boxer stated that certain forms of Aphasia are treatable and reversed if the underlying cause is detected in the early stages.

A patient with a stroke who suffers from Aphasia could regain their capability to communicate, Boxer said. However, the National Aphasia Association said complete recovery is not likely if the symptoms persist for more than three months following an injury like a stroke.

The organization also said that “some people continue to improve over years and even decades.”

With slower aphasias, Boxer said, doctors usually begin by having a brain scan to rule out the possibility of a tumor that is pressing into the speech part of the brain or other neurological reason.

Boxer stated that neurologists would concentrate upon “what we can fix,” for example, the deficiency of vitamin B-12 or a thyroid imbalance that could be causing the disorder.

Once the cause has been identified and treated, the patient can work with a speech therapy professional to get back the maximum amount of speech.

If the patient suffers from primary progressive Aphasia or PPA, speech loss is due to “deterioration of brain tissue” caused by dementia or Alzheimer’s. In that instance, “other problems associated with the underlying disease, such as memory loss, often occur later,” the National Aphasia Association said.

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