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What is Aphasia; the disorder that made Bruce Willis quit acting

Hollywood actor Bruce Willis who is known for films like Die Hard and The Sixth Sense announced that he will be retiring from acting as he is suffering from Aphasia. Know all about the language disorder-- cause, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

Written by: Health Desk New Delhi Published on: March 31, 2022 12:33 IST
Bruce Willis
Image Source : INSTAGRAM/BRUCE WILLIS

Bruce Willis

Highlights

  • Hollywood actor Bruce Willis announced retirement from acting due to Aphasia
  • Aphasia is a language disorder and the patient finds it challenging to communicate with others
  • Aphasia can be an indication of some other ailment, such as a stroke or a brain tumour

It came as a shocker when Hollywood star Bruce Willis' family announced that the actor known for films like Die Hard and The Sixth Sense among others is being diagnosed with aphasia, a language disorder caused by brain damage that affects a person's ability to communicate. Willis' family members posted a joint statement to social media announcing the actor will be taking retirement from acting henceforth.

Know all about aphasia -- cause, symptoms and treatment of the disorder that Bruce Willis is going through:

What is aphasia?

Aphasia is a language disorder that is caused by damage in a particular area of the brain that controls language expression and comprehension. A person suffering from aphasia finds it challenging to communicate with others. Both men and women can be impacted by it. 

There are multiple types of aphasia usually categorised based on the area of the language-dominant side of the brain is affected and the extent of the damage. 

Broca aphasia: Individuals with the damaged front portion of the language-dominant side of the brain.

Wernicke aphasia: Those who have damaged the side portion of the language-dominant part of the brain.
Global aphasia: It is the result of damage to a large portion of the language-dominant side of the brain.

What causes aphasia?

At the moment there is not much understanding if aphasia causes the complete loss of language structure. The disorder is caused by damage to the language-dominant side of the brain following 

  • Stroke
  • Head injury
  • Brain tumour
  • Infection
  • Dementia

What are the symptoms of aphasia?

Aphasia can be an indication of some other ailment, such as a stroke or a brain tumour.

An individual with aphasia may:

  • Talk in brief or vague sentences
  • Speak sentences that don't make meaning
  • Replace one word for another or one sound for another
  • Say unrecognisable words
  • Not comprehend other people's discussion
  • Write sentences that don't make sense

How is aphasia diagnosed?

The extent of the disorder and prognosis for successful treatment can be approved by comprehensive language tests executed by a speech-language pathologist. These tests include studying speech, naming, repetition, comprehension, reading, and writing. Making a diagnosis may also include the use of imaging procedures to look at the brain, such as -- Computed tomography (CT), Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and Positron emission tomography (PET).

Treatment of aphasia?

Treatment for aphasia is aimed to improve the ability of the patient to intercommunicate through techniques that may include:

  • Speech-language therapy
  • Nonverbal communication therapies, such as computers or pictures
  • Group therapy for patients and their families
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