Today, we learned that beloved actor Bruce Willis (67) has been diagnosed with Aphasia and due to this impairment of his language abilities, he will be stepping down from acting.
Willis is best known for his starring role in the dramedy “Moonlighting,” opposite Cybill Shepherd, and his starring role as John McClane in the "Die Hard" action franchise.
What is Aphasia?
According to the National Aphasia Association, Aphasia is an acquired language disorder that can affect a person’s ability to generate or comprehend verbal or written language, while leaving intellect intact. Aphasia is due to an injury to the brain-most commonly from a stroke, particularly in older individuals. But brain injuries resulting in aphasia may also arise from head trauma, from brain tumors, or from infections. According to Mayo Clinic, aphasia can begin as trouble communicating with trouble finding the correct words, substituting the wrong words for each other or speaking in short sentences that are difficult or impossible to understand. Commonly, however, multiple aspects of communication are impaired, while some abilities remain accessible for a limited exchange of information. These issues are related to brain damage.
Watch this video here to learn more.
"Recovery of language skills is usually a relatively slow process, Mayo Clinic says. "Although most people make significant progress, few people regain full pre-injury communication levels."
"This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support," Willis' family said in a statement. "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."
According to Jennifer Baukol, general manager at STEPS Home Care, "We have many clients with Aphasia and we make certain we match our caregivers who offer nurturing care, patience and encouragement in these situations. It may be exhausting for the family to assist with speech therapy day in and day out and our caregivers can bring a reprieve to reenergize their patience with their loved one."
According to the American Stroke Association, different aspects of language are in different parts of the of the brain. So the type of aphasia depends on how your stroke affects each part of your brain.
Wernicke's Aphasia (receptive)
If you have Wernicke’s Aphasia, you may:
- Say many words that don’t make sense.
- Use the wrong words; for instance, you might call a fork a “gleeble.”
- String together a series of meaningless words that sound like a sentence but don’t make sense.
Broca's Aphasia (expressive)
Injury to the frontal regions of the left hemisphere impacts how words are strung together to form complete sentences. This can lead to Broca’s Aphasia, which is characterized by:
- Difficulty forming complete sentences.
- Leaving out words like “is” or “the.”
- Saying something that doesn’t resemble a sentence.
- Trouble understanding sentences.
- Making mistakes in following directions like “left, right, under and after.”
- Using a word that’s close to what you intend, but not the exact word; for example, saying “car” when you mean “truck.”
A stroke that affects an extensive portion of your front and back regions of the left hemisphere may result in Global Aphasia. You may have difficulty:
- Understanding words and sentences.
- Forming words and sentences.
Westchester NY - Aphasia Support
Speech therapy and Aphasia groups are available at Burke to provide a non-judgmental, supportive environment for continued language recovery. Contact Burke’s Outpatient Speech Department at (914) 597-2288.
Additionally, there are national and local non-profit organizations designed to assist people with aphasia and their loved ones