Bruce Willis loses the ability to speak and understand.. What is aphasia?

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The family of American actor Bruce Willis, star of the films “Die Hard” and “Pulp Fiction”, revealed that he has permanently retired from acting after a decades-long artistic career due to aphasia.

On Wednesday, his ex-wife, Demi Moore, shared the news in an Instagram post, saying that the disease was “affecting his cognitive abilities”.

What is aphasia?

Aphasia is a group of symptoms that make a person unable to express or understand language. The disorder arises from damage to the parts of the brain responsible for language functions, which are usually located on the left side of the brain.

Also, aphasia can be devastating for patients, disrupting their ability to participate in daily life.

All cases of aphasia are caused by neurological changes in the brain, according to Dr. Shazam Hussein, director of the Cerebral Vascular Center at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, to the British newspaper, “The Telegraph.”

Bruce Willis (Shutterstock)

Bruce Willis (Shutterstock)

While he revealed that strokes that lead to brain damage are the number one cause, but it can also occur due to conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Other triggers include brain injuries, including severe blows to the head, brain tumors, gunshot wounds and brain infections, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

How does aphasia appear?

There are several types of aphasia, all of which have a significant impact on patients. People with expressive aphasia may struggle to speak whole sentences or find the words they are looking for.

Patients may also have difficulty remembering words for certain things, causing them to pause for long periods of time, often in the middle of their sentences, said Dr. Purna Punakdarpour, a behavioral neurologist at Northwestern Medicine.

Aphasia (Shutterstock)

Aphasia (Shutterstock)

Other patients suffer from receptive aphasia, as they may experience extreme confusion when speaking to them, and may fail to continue conversations.

Anyone can have receptive aphasia and expressive aphasia, but some have only one or the other.

Karen Jindal, a speech-language pathologist at New York University, explained that global aphasia is a condition in which all four major language modalities (speaking, understanding, reading and writing) are severely impaired, making a person unable to communicate.

Are there warning signs?

While aphasia most often occurs in people over the age of 65, it can occur at any age.

The condition can appear suddenly, especially after a stroke, but some people with aphasia develop it gradually.

Aphasia (Shutterstock)

Aphasia (Shutterstock)

Are there ways to prevent?

In addition, Dr. Hussein stated that there is no foolproof technique to prevent aphasia, but you can take simple steps to boost your overall brain health.

He pointed out that the steps are to follow a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and beware of stroke risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

However, he pointed out that smoking may increase the risk of stroke and aphasia. “The more you can maintain your overall brain health, the less chance you have of developing these or other brain problems,” he said.

Bruce Willis (Shutterstock)

Bruce Willis (Shutterstock)

Are there treatments?

Although there is no cure, patients with aphasia can seek occupational and speech therapy.

The National Aphasia Association recommends two main approaches to treatment. Vulnerability-based therapies include assessment and then targeting specific skills in reading, speaking and writing through activities such as fill-in-the-blank exercises and training patients to remember synonyms and antonyms.

Also, communication-based therapies focus on rebuilding the conversational and cognitive skills patients use to participate in daily activities.



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