Aphasia: An Explanation of the Case of Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis’ family announced Wednesday that he will be stepping back from his nearly 45-year career due to a diagnosis of aphasia. Aphasia is a medical condition that causes patients to struggle with verbal communication.

According to the Canada-based Institute of Aphasia, aphasia is a language problem that hides a person’s inherent competence. A person with aphasia may have difficulty expressing opinions, feelings, thoughts and emotions, resulting in speaking in short sentences that are difficult or impossible to understand.

However, research shows that people with aphasia know what’s going on.

“Even when aphasia is severe, many are able to participate in decisions about them if appropriate support is provided,” says the Aphasia Institute. “Similar to giving a wheelchair or a walker to someone who can’t walk.”

Johns Hopkins explains that these problems are related to brain damage to the left side of the brain, which controls language.

Although the cause of Willis aphasia is not clear, the Mayo Clinic says that aphasia can be due to a stroke, head injury, brain tumor or disease.

While potential drug treatments are being tested, current treatment options are limited. Most patients are advised to undergo language and speech rehabilitation, which focuses on restoring as much language as possible and finding alternative ways of communicating.

“Recovering language skills is usually a relatively slow process,” the Mayo Clinic says. “Although most people make great progress, few people recover full levels of contact before infection.”

Willis’ daughter said the condition “affects his cognitive ability” in an Instagram post, although experts believe aphasia is correctly classified as a language disorder rather than a cognitive disease.

“This is a challenging time for our family and we deeply appreciate your continued love, sympathy and support,” the Willis family said in a statement.

“We’re moving through this as a strong family unit, and we wanted to attract his fans because we know how much he means to you, as you do to him.”

According to the Aphasia Institute, there are more than 100,000 Canadians living with aphasia today and one in three stroke survivors are diagnosed with aphasia.

The number of people affected by this disorder is expected to increase significantly with age.

The National Aphasia Association says that more people have aphasia than many other common conditions, including cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or muscular dystrophy.

They say about a third (225,000) annual strokes result in aphasia.

Bruce Willis is best known for his starring role as John McClane in the “Die Hard” action movie series. As of 2022, films featuring Willis have grossed over $5 billion worldwide, making him one of the highest-earning actors in the world.

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