Highlights

  • Bruce Willis retires from acting
  • The Hollywood actor has been diagnosed with Aphasia
  • Aphasia is a language disorder

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Editorji Exclusive: Bruce Willis diagnosed with Aphasia; Here’s what this disorder means

The family of actor Bruce Willis took to social media to announce that the actor has decided to retire from acting since he has been diagnosed with aphasia.

Recently, Hollywood actor Bruce Willis who is known for his work in ‘Die Hard’, took the decision to retire from acting after being diagnosed with aphasia. Read on to know everything about this language disorder.

What is aphasia?

Speech and language are the means by which humans communicate with one another. Loss of this ability is called aphasia.

Speech and language require to have many components: the ability to understand the spoken or written word; the ability to formulate an appropriate response; and to be able to respond in the form of speech or writing.

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For this to happen, in a correct and smooth way, there are important centres in the brain, located on the left side in most people, but maybe on the right side in left-handed people. If there is any damage to these centres, aphasia may occur.

Aphasia can be of different types:

  • The affected person may not be able to understand what is being said.
  • He/she may understand what is said, but may not know how to respond.
  • He /she may know how to respond, but what is said is different from what he wanted to say.
  • He/she may not be able to say anything at all despite wanting to do so, which may be very frustrating for the person.

So, this manifests as

  • Inability to understand what the other person is saying, so he/she won't be able to follow instructions.
  • Speaking with lots of pauses during the conversation.
  • Substitutes words e.g. saying chair instead of a door or even incomprehensible sounds, so what the person says seems to have no meaning at all (this is seen also when the person is writing).

What causes aphasia?

Any damage to the area of the brain involved in speech and language can cause aphasia e.g., stroke or head injury or infections when it occurs suddenly.

It can also occur in tumours or be a part of a generalized disease process when it occurs gradually and progresses slowly.

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Treatment

There is no specific treatment for aphasia. Aphasia therapy can be very helpful, where the patient is taught to use other means of communication by using gestures or pictures. In traumatic events and stroke, some recovery may occur with time.

(Inputs by Dr Rekha Mittal, Additional Director, Pediatric Neurology, Madhukar rainbow children's hospital)

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