In a week full of celebrity news, there is one news item that has been somewhat overlooked. Bruce Willis has announced his retirement from acting due to his health. Doctors have diagnosed him with aphasia, which means the actor will be leaving the big screen permanently.
Bruce Willis Announced Retirement Due To Aphasia Diagnosis
This past week, Die Hard actor and action film hero Bruce Willis announced that he will be stepping away from his acting career. This is because after struggling with various health problems, his doctors have diagnosed him with Aphasia. His condition impacts his ability to communicate, making acting a difficult thing to do. (1)
The actor’s family recently released a statement announcing his decision. The statement is signed by his wife, Emma Heming, his ex-wife, Demi Moore, and his five children, Rumer, 33, Scout, 30, Tallulah, 28, Mabel, 9, and Evelyn, 7. They published the statement to each of their Instagram accounts.
“To Bruce’s amazing supporters, as a family we wanted to share that our beloved Bruce has been experiencing some health issues and has recently been diagnosed with aphasia, which is impacting his cognitive abilities,” they wrote. “As a result of this and with much consideration Bruce is stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him.”
They continued, talking about how challenging this time is for the family. They also mentioned how thankful they are and have been for the continued support of Willis’ fans.
“This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support. 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,” they continued. “As Bruce always says, “Live it up” and together we plan to do just that.”
What Is Aphasia?
Aphasia is a disorder that is the result of damage to the parts of the brain responsible for language. Usually, this means parts of the left side of the brain. Most of the time its onset is quite sudden after a stroke or a head injury. It can, however, develop slowly over time due to a progressive neurological disease or a brain tumor. Aphasia makes communication difficult. It impairs a person’s ability to express themselves, affects their understanding of language, and makes it challenging to read and write. (2)
There are two types of aphasia: Fluent and Non-Fluent. Within these two general groups, there are various different types. The symptoms and severity can range greatly, from it being challenging to communicate to being nearly impossible.
The most common type of fluent aphasia is Wernicke’s aphasia. This is the result of damage to the temporal lobe of the brain. People with Wernicke’s may speak in long, complete sentences that don’t have any real meaning. Often they will add unnecessary words or made-up words. They are usually unaware of their mistakes and often also have difficulty understanding others.
Broca’s aphasia is the most common type of non-fluent aphasia. This results from damage to the frontal lobe of the brain. These people will often have right-sided weakness or paralysis to the arm and leg. They often understand speech and know what they want to say, but they have trouble saying it. They speak in short sentences with great difficulty. Often they will leave out small words such as “it”, “is”, and “and”. Usually, those with Broca’s are aware of their mistakes and get frustrated at their inability to communicate properly.
As already mentioned, there are many other kinds of aphasia. Each one affects a person differently and each person will have a different experience with the condition. It is a devastating disease.
“Aphasia by itself is not a thinking disorder. People are still capable, they know what they want to say, they know what they want to convey, but they are blocked from expressing it,” said Elyse Shumway, a speech language pathologist and clinical manager at the Aphasia Institute in Toronto. “Some people liken it to your first language suddenly becoming a second language.” (3)
Speech-language therapy is the most common treatment for those with Aphasia. Research shows that consistent therapy can even help create new brain activity in the damaged area. Bruce Willis’ diagnosis is bringing a lot of new-found attention to the condition. Hopefully, more research will be done that will help Aphasia sufferers in the future.
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