What is aphasia? Here’s what you need to know after Bruce Willis has been diagnosed

Bruce Willis’ family announced that he is giving up his acting career after being diagnosed with aphasia.

“Dear Bruce has been experiencing some health issues and was recently diagnosed with aphasia, which is affecting his cognitive abilities,” Rumer Willis wrote on Instagram in a joint statement Wednesday from Bruce Willis’ family.

“As a result of this and with a lot of attention, Bruce is walking away from a career that meant so much to him.”

What we know about aphasia:

Aphasia is a language disorder that occurs after parts of the brain are damaged.

Anyone can develop aphasia, and it affects both men and women.

A recently announced aphasia diagnosis by Bruce Willis for “Die Hard” and “Pulp Fiction” has shed light on the language disorder.

What is aphasia?

Aphasia is a disorder that results from damage to parts of the brain responsible for language, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Aphasia can affect the way a person expresses and understands language. The disorder can also affect reading and writing.

Men and women are equally affected by aphasia, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Most people with aphasia are middle-aged or older. It is not known whether aphasia causes a complete loss of language structure or complications in how language is accessed.

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What causes aphasia?

Aphasia is caused by damage to “one or more language areas of the brain,” according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Stroke is the cause of brain injury most often, but other causes of brain injury include blows to the head, brain tumors, progressive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, and more.

The severity of aphasia depends on several factors, including the cause of any brain damage and the severity of the damage.

What are the symptoms of aphasia?

There are two main categories of aphasia: fluent and non-fluent. But there are multiple types within those categories. Symptoms can vary between the different types of aphasia.

  • Wernicke’s aphasia It is the most common type of fluent aphasia. This can cause people to speak in long sentences that “have no meaning,” including creating words, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

  • people with Broca’s aphasia They may know what they want to communicate and understand speech, but speak in short phrases instead. Broca’s aphasia is the most common type of non-fluent aphasia.

  • International aphasia It may cause people to become very limited in speaking or understanding speech. They may not be able to say many words or understand some communications.

Can you recover from aphasia?

If the damage to the brain is mild, a person can regain their language skills without treatment, according to the Mayo Clinic. But restoring language skills is usually a slow process, and “few people regain full pre-injury levels of communication.”

Speech and language therapy can help some people restore language function, learn other methods of communication, and take additional steps. Some medications are being studied to treat aphasia.

People with aphasia may want to carry a card stating that they have aphasia, hold a pencil and pad of paper and consider other communication options.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Bruce Willis: What is aphasia? What are its causes and what are its types?

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