Bruce Willis' Aphasia Diagnosis Explained

Bruce Willis, perhaps best known for playing tough NYPD cop John McClane in the popular 1980s "Die Hard" series, has been diagnosed with aphasia and will step away from acting. The family of the 67-year-old TV and film star announced the news, saying the condition is having an impact on Willis' cognitive abilities. The statement went on to say that the situation has been trying, but that Willis and his family appreciate the love and support of his many fans. The joint statement was signed by Willis' current wife, Emma Heming, ex-wife, Demi Moore, and all of his children and was posted to the family's Instagram accounts (via Page Six).

According to the experts at the Mayo Clinic, aphasia is a condition that hampers your ability to communicate. While it typically occurs after a stroke or head injury, it could also arise as a result of a slow-growing brain tumor or a disease that causes degeneration. Those afflicted with aphasia will often have difficulty speaking, writing, and comprehending language, both verbal and written.

Aphasia symptoms and treatment

After over a century of study, researchers have classified numerous types of aphasia (via National Aphasia Foundation). An example of the most severe type is Global aphasia. In this case, the patient can't read, write, or speak recognizable words. Someone with Anomic aphasia will have difficulty supplying the specific nouns and verbs they wish to express. Those diagnosed with Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) experience a loss of language and speech capabilities due to the deterioration of related brain tissue.

Experts at Cleveland Clinic explain that each person's experience with aphasia will be different. This is because a number of factors have an impact on one's prognosis and recovery, such as the cause and extent of the brain injury, the location of the injury, as well as the patient's age and general health. Signs of aphasia can include trouble naming familiar objects, limited speech, putting words in the wrong order, difficulty spelling and reading, among other symptoms. Aphasia is typically diagnosed through an MRI or CT scan, in combination with basic language skills tests performed by a doctor.

Aphasia treatment may involve working with a speech pathologist to improve language and communication. While there are no known methods yet to prevent aphasia, supporting brain health and reducing your risk of brain injury are important steps you can take.