Aphasia by Bruce Willis | MedPage today

Bruce Willis is stepping away from acting. The 67-year-old actor, well known for his roles in the die hard series, The sixth sense, pulp Fiction, along with many others, was recently diagnosed with aphasia, his family said. Ex-wife Demi Moore announced on Instagram:

“To the amazing Bruce supporters, as a family we wanted to share that our beloved Bruce has had health issues and was recently diagnosed with aphasia, which is impacting his cognitive abilities. With that and with great consideration, Bruce takes a step away from the career that meant so much to him. This is a truly difficult time for our family and we so appreciate your continued love, compassion and support. We come through this as a strong family unit and wanted to bring his fans because we know how much he means to you, as you do to him. As Bruce always says, “Live like this” and together we plan to do just that.

The statement was sent jointly by Moore, their daughters Rumer, Scott and Tallulah, as well as Willis’ current wife, Emma Heming Willis, and their daughters Mabel and Evelyn.

the Los Angeles Times reported that those who recently worked with Willis were concerned about his cognitive decline. He had trouble remembering his dialogue and sometimes needed to play his lines through an earpiece. In some cases, his lines were shortened, and increasingly, action scenes, especially those with complex choreography, were filmed with a body double.

However, fans shouldn’t worry about missing any new Willis movies for quite a while. According to IMDB, he released two films this year: gasoline alley and a day to dieand eight other films are already finished or in post-production.

What is aphasia?

Aphasia is a neurological disorder caused by damage to the parts of the brain that are responsible for producing or processing language. For most people, these areas are on the left side of the brain. Aphasia can occur suddenly or gradually, depending on the type and location of brain tissue involved.

The disorder impairs the expression and understanding of language as well as reading and writing. Aphasia can coexist with speech disorders, such as dysarthria or apraxia (the inability to assemble the correct muscle movements to produce speech), which can also result from brain damage.

Aphasia is not a disease, but rather a symptom of brain damage. Although mainly seen in people who have suffered a stroke, aphasia can also result from conditions such as a brain tumor, infection, inflammation, head trauma or dementia that affects the areas of the brain associated with language.

It is estimated that approximately 1 million people in the United States today suffer from aphasia. The type and severity of language dysfunction depends on the precise location and extent of damaged brain tissue.

The Brain Anatomy of Language

Several areas of the brain play an essential role in speech and language:

  • Broca’s area: Located in the posteroinferior frontal gyrus, Broca’s area is associated with speech production and articulation.
  • Wernicke’s area: Located in the posterior superior temporal lobe, Wernicke’s area is associated with the processing and understanding of language.
  • Arcuate bundle: A band of nerves that connects Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas. It is important for word formation, for speaking clearly, and for understanding concepts as language.
  • Angular gyrus: Located in the anterolateral region of the parietal lobe, near the superior border of the temporal lobe, it involves problems in transferring visual information to Wernicke’s area, in order to make sense of visually perceived words.

Generally, aphasia can be divided into four broad categories:

  1. Expressive aphasia (also called Broca’s aphasia) involves difficulty in conveying thoughts through speech or writing. The person knows what they want to say but cannot find the necessary words.
  2. Receptive aphasia (Wernicke’s aphasia) involves difficulty understanding spoken or written language. The individual hears the voice or sees the footprint but cannot make sense of the words.
  3. Global aphasia results from severe and widespread damage to language areas of the brain. People lose almost all language functions, both comprehension and expression. They cannot speak or understand speech, read or write.
  4. people with anomic Where amnesia aphasiathe mildest form of aphasia, have difficulty using the correct names for particular objects, people, places, or events.

Aphasia can also be characterized as fluent or non-fluid. Wernicke’s aphasia is the most common type of fluent aphasia. Affected people often speak in long sentences that make no sense. They may add unnecessary words or made up words and are usually unaware of their mistakes.

Broca’s aphasia is the most common type of nonfluent aphasia. People with this type of aphasia can understand speech and know what they want to say, but are unable to do so. They frequently use short sentences, which are produced with great effort.

Aphasia treatment

In some cases, an individual will fully recover from aphasia without treatment. In most cases, however, language therapy should begin as soon as possible and be tailored to the person’s individual needs.

Research has shown that language and communication abilities can continue to improve for many years and is sometimes accompanied by new activity in brain tissue near the damaged area. Some of the factors that can affect the extent of improvement include the cause of the brain injury, the area of ​​the brain that has been damaged and its extent, and the age and health of the individual.

Rehabilitation with a speech therapist involves extensive exercises in which individuals read, write, follow instructions, and repeat what they hear. Computer-assisted therapy can complement standard language therapy.

Aphasia therapy aims to improve a person’s ability to communicate by helping them use their remaining language skills, restore their language skills as much as possible, and learn alternative ways of communicating, such as gestures , images or the use of electronic devices.

Individual therapy focuses on the specific needs of the person, while group therapy offers the opportunity to use new communication skills in a small group.

Recent technologies have provided new tools for people with aphasia. “Virtual” speech-language pathologists offer patients the flexibility and convenience of getting therapy at home through a computer. Using speech-generating apps on mobile devices like tablets can also provide an alternative way to communicate for people who have difficulty using spoken language.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), a relatively new area of ​​interest in aphasia research is noninvasive brain stimulation in combination with speech therapy.

Two of these brain stimulation techniques, transcranial magnetic stimulation and transcranial direct current stimulation, temporarily alter normal brain activity in the stimulated region. Originally, researchers used these techniques to help them understand the parts of the brain that played a role in language and stroke recovery. Recently, scientists are investigating whether this temporary alteration in brain activity could help people relearn how to use language, and several NIDCD-funded clinical trials are currently testing these technologies.

Michele R. Berman, MD, is a pediatrician turned medical journalist. She trained at Johns Hopkins, Washington University in St. Louis, and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Its mission is both journalistic and educational: to report on common diseases affecting uncommon people and to summarize the evidence-based medicine behind the headlines.

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