Bruce Willis has recently been diagnosed with aphasia, a disorder that stems from damage to parts of the brain responsible for speaking, writing and understanding language.
About 180,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with aphasia every year. It can occur after a sudden emergency, like a stroke or a head injury, or come on more slowly over time. It can affect people of any age but is more common in middle-aged or older individuals.
Some people with aphasia may speak in short or incomplete sentences or longer sentences that are non-sensical. They also use unrecognisable words.
According to the Mayo Clinic, people with aphasia fall into one of three patterns.
Aphasia is caused by damage to one or more brain areas responsible for language, such as a stroke. When the blood supply to part of the brain is stopped or greatly reduced, it can prevent the brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients. The impact can be immediate and lasting.
Other causes of aphasia are severe head injuries, brain infections, brain tumours or a progressive neurological condition, such as Alzheimer’s.
Symptoms of aphasia are:
Treatment depends on the root cause. Some people can recover from a brain injury such as a stroke, depending on which parts of the brain were affected.
Rehabilitation programs, including a speech pathologist, can help with recovery. Aphasia therapy helps people with aphasia to use their remaining language abilities, restore language abilities, and learn other ways of communicating, such as gestures, pictures, or the use of electronic devices.
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