What is aphasia, the disease that has impacted the acting career of Bruce Willis?

You may never have heard of aphasia, but this brain disorder is “more common than Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy” and affects some 2 million Americans, according to the National Aphasia Association. . In fact, about 180,000 people are diagnosed each year, according to the association.

Aphasia is a devastating condition that robs a person’s ability to communicate, making it difficult to write or speak or even understand what others are saying.

People with aphasia may have difficulty finding words, use words out of order, speak in a jerky and hesitant manner, or use short fragments of speech. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, they may even make up nonsense words and sprinkle them into their speech and writing.

Written communications can be full of grammatical errors and long sentences. A person with aphasia may also have problems copying letters and words accurately, the ASHA said.

Agreement others may also be impacted. People with aphasia may not understand spoken or written sentences or may need more time to process and understand what is being said or read. They may lose their ability to recognize sight words or pronounce written words. It can be difficult for people with aphasia to follow a fast speaker or understand complex sentences and concepts, the ASHA said.

The impact of aphasia on a person can vary depending on the extent and site of brain damage. Some people only lose their ability to find or repeat words and phrases, but are still able to speak and be understood. This is called “fluid” aphasia, compared to “non-fluid” aphasia for those with greater damage.

Causes and treatment

Caused by damage to the brain’s language centers, aphasia is often the result of a traumatic brain injury, brain infection or tumor, or a degenerative brain disease such as dementia, according to ASHA.

However, strokes are by far the leading cause of the disease. Between 25% and 40% of stroke survivors acquire aphasia, according to the National Aphasia Association, with the elderly being most at risk.

Treatment focuses on the person’s symptoms. For people with milder forms of aphasia, treatment can be restorative, using speech therapy to retrain the brain to recognize words and speak and write.

For people with degenerative diseases, where further decline is expected, medical professionals often focus on providing compensatory assistance in the form of pictures and large print to help the person communicate.

According to the National Aphasia Association, complete recovery from aphasia is unlikely if symptoms last more than two or three months after a stroke, but is quick to add that “some people continue to improve over a period of time. years or even decades.


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