Hollywood star Bruce Willis is stepping away from his career, having been diagnosed with a condition called Aphasia. The news was confirmed by Willis’ daughter Rumer on her Instagram.
Not a commonly known conduction, what is Aphasia? GP, and Medical Director of men’s health platform Manual, Dr Earim Chaudry, explains more about the cognitive condition.
“Broadly speaking, Aphasia is a condition that impacts a person’s speech, ability to communicate, and comprehension. It can impact any single aspect of communication, but most commonly, Aphasia affects multiple aspects of a person’s ability to communicate.
“It is most commonly caused by damage to a specific area of the brain, and is often, but not always, caused by a stroke. Trauma, brain tumours, and infections can also cause Aphasia.
“There are actually a range of different kinds of Aphasia, and they can vary depending on which side of the brain is affected, and the extent of the damage. For example, Broca Aphasia stems from damage to the front portion of the language-dominant side of the brain, whereas Wernicke aphasia results from damage to the side portion of the language-dominant part of the brain.
“Global Aphasia is the most severe form. Individuals who suffer from this version of the condition can often only produce few recognisable words, and struggle to understand either spoken or written language.”
Statistics from the National Aphasia Association in the United States suggest that as many as 250,000 people in the UK suffer from Aphasia and around two million people in the United States have the condition, between 0.3 % and 0.6% of the population.
“A change to a person’s speech is one of the early indicators of the condition. Aphasia symptoms include; speech in short, or incomplete sentences, speech not making sense, saying unrecognisable words, or substituting one word for another word or sound, failure to comprehend other people’s conversations, and an inability to write sentences that make sense.
“If you, or somebody you know are showing any of these symptoms, you should consult a doctor or qualified medical professional. Not only are they signs of potential Aphasia, they could also be early signs of other health issues, including Stroke. Suffering from Aphasia can lead to related mental health issues, including feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression.”
Aphasia is most commonly treated with speech and language therapy. With time, this helps people with the condition restore an ability to communicate with others, and can introduce them to alternative methods of communication. Recovery differs from person to person, and there have been recorded cases of full recovery.