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31st Mar 2022

Bruce Willis: What is aphasia and can it be cured?

There are lots of reasons behind the illness.

It was announced yesterday evening that actor Bruce Willis would be stepping away from acting after being diagnosed with aphasia, his family revealed.

His daughter Rumer and ex-wife Demi Moore both confirmed the sad news on Instagram on Wednesday, saying: “To Bruce’s amazing supporters, as a family we wanted to share that our beloved Bruce has been experiencing some health issues and has recently been diagnosed with aphasia, which is impacting 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.”

But what exactly is aphasia, and can it be cured?

Aphasia is a language disorder caused by brain damage that affects the ability to communicate.


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A post shared by Rumer Willis (@rumerwillis)

According to the NHS, it is described as “when a person has difficulty with their language or speech. It’s usually caused by damage to the left side of the brain (for example, after a stroke).”

Rumours had been circulating online recently that Bruce had been suffering health issues and many had pointed out he had been using an earpiece while working.

The main symptoms of the illness are based on four ways we communicate and use language, reading, listening, speaking and typing or writing.

The NHS says: “Speaking problems are perhaps the most obvious, and people with aphasia may make mistakes with the words they use.

“This could be sometimes using the wrong sounds in a word, choosing the wrong word, or putting words together incorrectly.

“Although aphasia affects a person’s ability to communicate, it doesn’t affect their intelligence.

“Aphasia can occur by itself or alongside other disorders, such as visual difficulties, mobility problems, limb weakness, and problems with memory or thinking skills.”

Aphasia can be caused if someone has a stroke, a serious head injury, a brain tumour or progressive neurological conditions. When it comes to Bruce’s case, the cause was not disclosed.

There are lots of treatments for people with aphasia, with speech and language therapy being the main one. It aims to restore your ability to communicate and help you develop alternative ways of communicating.

The success rate of this depends on each person, but most people make some degree of recovery while some have made full recoveries.

People typically make some form of a recovery when they have experienced a one off event like a stroke but the chance of recovery is less when it has resulted from a progressive neurological condition.

Despite this, some people can still respond well to therapy but it is not a guaranteed way to make improvements in cases like this.

In occurrences like this, treatment will focus on making the most of what the person can still do and finding other ways to communicate.