Veteran actor Bruce Willis, who has appeared in over 70 films, is retiring from acting after being diagnosed with aphasia, his family announced on March 30.
In a statement posted on Instagram by his daughter Rumer Willis, the family said the condition was affecting his cognitive abilities.
“This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support,” they told his fans. “We are moving through this as a strong family unit, and wanted to bring his fans in because we know how much he means to you, as you do to him.”
What is aphasia and what causes it?
According to the Johns Hopkins Medicine, aphasia is a language disorder that is caused by damage to the part of brain that controls comprehension and language expression. “Aphasia leaves a person unable to communicate effectively with others,” the institute said.
Aphasia can be caused by dementia, infections, strokes, head injuries and brain tumours.
The condition has several types: Broca aphasia, Wernicke aphasia and Global aphasia. Symptoms differ according to the type of aphasia a person has.
In Broca aphasia, which is also known as expressive aphasia, patients are able to utter short and meaningful sentences and usually understand others, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Patients with Broca aphasia have damage in the brain’s front part (responsible for motor movements) so symptoms often include paralysis and weakness on the right side of the body.
In Wernicke aphasia, sometimes also referred to as receptive aphasia, patients’ sentences become long and confusing. They also find it difficult to comprehend the words of other people.
Global aphasia causes difficulties in both speech and the comprehension of language.
Treatments for aphasia include speech-language therapy and group therapy for patients as well as their family members.Families of aphasia patients are advised to simplify their own language, encourage the use of drawings and gestures for communication and look for support clubs.