What is aphasia? what causes it and what are the types?

Bruce Willis’ family announced on Wednesday that he will be retiring from his acting career after being diagnosed with aphasia.

“[O]Our beloved Bruce has had health issues and was recently diagnosed with aphasia, which is impacting his cognitive abilities,” Rumer Willis wrote on Instagram in a joint statement from Bruce Willis’ family.

“Because of this and with great consideration, Bruce is stepping away from the career that meant so much to him,” she added.

What we know about aphasia:

► Aphasia is a language disorder that occurs after damage to certain parts of the brain.

► Anyone can suffer from aphasia, and it affects both men and women equally.

► The recently announced diagnosis of aphasia by ‘Die Hard’ and ‘Pulp Fiction’ actor Bruce Willis has highlighted the language disorder.

What is aphasia?

Aphasia is a disorder that stems from damage to parts of the brain responsible for language, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Aphasia can affect the way a person expresses language and understands it. The disorder can also affect reading and writing.

Both men and women are equally affected by aphasia, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Most people with aphasia are middle-aged or older. It is not known whether aphasia leads to complete loss of language structure or complications in language access.

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What causes aphasia?

Aphasia is caused by damage to “one or more of the language areas of the brain,” according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. A stroke is the most common cause of brain injury, but other causes of brain injury include blows to the head, brain tumors, progressive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and more.

The severity of aphasia depends on several factors, including the cause of any brain damage and the severity of the damage.

What are the symptoms of aphasia?

There are two broad categories of aphasia, namely fluent and non-fluent. But there are several types in these categories. Symptoms may differ for different types of aphasia.

  • Wernicke’s aphasia is the most common type of fluent aphasia. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, it can cause people to speak in long sentences that “make no sense,” including creating words.
  • people with Broca’s aphasia may know what they want to communicate and understand speech, but they tend to speak in short sentences. Broca’s aphasia is the most common type of nonfluent aphasia.
  • Global aphasia can cause people to be very limited in speaking or understanding speech. They may be unable to say many words or understand certain communications.

Can you recover from aphasia?

If the brain damage is mild, a person can regain their language skills without treatment, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, recovery of language skills is generally a slow process and “few people regain full levels of communication prior to injury”.

Speech therapy can help some people regain their language functions, learn other methods of communication and make additional progress. Certain medications are also being studied to treat aphasia.

People with aphasia may want to carry a card explaining that they have aphasia, a pencil and a notepad, and look for other communication options.

USA Today

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