What is aphasia? – Bruce Willis has retired due to suffering from aphasia, a disease that affects speech. But what else do we know about it?

Bruce Willis’s daughter has just announced her father’s retirement from film due to a disease that affects his ability to speak. This is aphasia, a disorder associated with damage to the areas of the brain that control language. These lesions can have different origins and, moreover, occur at different points, making the symptoms very varied, always with spoken, written, read or even gestured communication as a common factor.

In Romania we have not found data on the estimated annual number of aphasia sufferers, but in the United States, where Bruce Willis lives, there are around 180,000. It is therefore a fairly common disease, especially among patients who have suffered cerebrovascular accidents such as stroke.

What is aphasia

Although it can also be the result of a tumour or be associated with brain infections or diseases such as multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer’s. Details of Bruce Willis’ condition have not been made public. It makes sense that the family would want this to be part of their privacy. They only provided the correct information so that the world would understand why a star of his caliber decided to leave the profession so soon. And it makes sense that they do, because people with aphasia have a lot of trouble communicating, forming coherent sentences or understanding what they read. Unfortunately, memorising a script or intervening in a conversation one step at a time can be very difficult tasks for them.

How many types of aphasia are there?

Although aphasia can be classified in many different ways, the most common is to start by separating it into two groups, depending on whether it is fluent or non-fluent aphasia .

In the former, fluent speech is less retained than expressive speech, and in the latter, the opposite is true. Therefore, when fluent, patients find it harder to understand what they hear than to pronounce their own sentences, while those with non-fluent aphasia can understand what another person is saying quite well, but find it difficult to communicate.

People with Wernicke’s aphasia are usually unaware of their speech errors, unlike those with Broca’s aphasia.

Within the former group, the best known is Wernicke’s aphasia, which is caused by damage to the temporal lobe of the brain, particularly at a point called Wernicke’s area. Patients with this type of aphasia can form very long sentences, but they lack coherence and sometimes include made-up words. On the other hand, they have a lot of difficulty understanding what is said to them and are unaware of their own mistakes, which makes it much more difficult to carry on a conversation with them.

As for the non-fluent, the most well-known is Broca’s aphasia, in which Broca’s area in the frontal lobe is affected. This region also has a motor function, so people affected by this type of aphasia, in addition to speech, may have impaired mobility of the right arm or leg. In terms of how they communicate, they tend to understand what is said to them and are aware of their difficulties. Therefore, they try to make short sentences to avoid mistakes. Unfortunately they do not succeed, they often have problems conjugating verbs or eliminating short words such as articles or some verbs. All this can be very frustrating for them.

Are there treatments for people like Bruce Willis?

Bruce Willis was recently diagnosed with aphasia. At least that’s what her daughter suggests in the statement the family just released. Therefore, the situation is likely to improve. And it is quite common for damaged brain tissue in aphasia patients to recover some activity after diagnosis. If the lesions were due to conditions such as a transient ischaemic attack, complete normality might be achieved; although unfortunately this is not always the case. In any case, they may show some improvement in the months after diagnosis.

Therefore, the earlier you start with therapies, the better. There is no definitive cure for aphasia, but there are some treatments for these patients that can help them regain some of their lost language ability.

Therapies for patients with aphasia are carried out by multidisciplinary groups of professionals

These treatments are carried out by multidisciplinary groups of neuropsychologists, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and clinical psychologists. In addition, other professionals such as musicologists or even voice actors may be involved.

Given Bruce Willis’s profession, it’s clear is that whatever your type of aphasia, you’re sure to get the best treatments. Hopefully he and all sufferers will one day have even more effective therapies than those that already exist.

*This article has been written with the help of information from international medical websites, we do not take responsibility for partially incorrect information, for this, please let us know in the comments box and we will amend the article, we hope that this information will still be helpful because for the drafting were used sites such as:

https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/aphasia
https://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afazie
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/5502-aphasia

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