What it was like to live with Aphasia, the character of Bruce Willis

BBruce Willis, the 67 -year -old actor and star of classic action movies as well Difficulty, is quitting his theater career after being diagnosed with speech aphasia. On March 30, his daughter Rumer, ex-wife Demi Moore, and other family members posted the disease on Instagram.

“Our dear Bruce has had some health problems and he has been diagnosed with aphasia, which is affecting his ability to think,” the family wrote. “Because of this and so much thought Bruce left the profession that meant so much to him.”

Here is what experts have to say about living with illness and caring for those who have it.

Living with aphasia

The symptoms vary, but in general, aphasia is related to people’s ability to speak and understand language. Speech, reading, writing, and listening skills can be involved. It can often occur after a stroke or other brain injury that damages the parts of the brain that are involved in speech and comprehension. In other cases, the earlier progressive aphasia is seen, the course is more delayed over time, and patients may develop symptoms similar to dementia.

Opinions vary, but between 1 and 2 million Americans develop aphasia, and nearly 180,000 develop the disease each year. While it is common in the elderly, people who are more prone to health events such as stroke, can affect people every year. “It’s probably a disaster,” said Swathi Kiran, director of the Aphasia Research Laboratory at Boston University. “You can’t say a full word, or say a word where the words sound, it’s very irritating.” It can embarrass or embarrass people, “so they’d rather not say anything more than say something and be embarrassed,” Kiran said.

It can lead to isolation, one of the most painful consequences of aphasia. Patients often know what they want to say but have no way to express it, Kiran said. People with aphasia may need to make major changes in their lives to accomplish this, such as quitting their jobs and finding new ways to communicate with loved ones. “I think the most important thing for families to realize is that even though they’re not like themselves, they are there,” said Brenda Rapp, a professor in the cognitive science department at Johns Hopkins University. “It is very difficult trying to navigate those important changes. They need a lot of support. “

Can people recover from aphasia?

While there is no cure for acute aphasia, speech therapy can improve the ability of patients to communicate over time. Rapp said that patients who develop aphasia quickly are more likely to improve soon after the onset of the disease, but patients can continue to improve. in later years. “I don’t really work with anyone, if you work with them, it’s not going to continue to succeed,” Rapp said.

The quality of a patient’s recovery depends on factors such as the severity of the disease and how it develops. For some patients, it can go a long way – as has been shown after a week or so Games of Thrones star Emilia Clarke, who developed the disease after having a brain aneurysm. In other cases, however, patients continue to have symptoms for the rest of their lives. The symptoms of people with early progressive aphasia, for example, continue to worsen, Kiran said.

Kiran said there are promising medical trials for aphasia, including drugs that stimulate the brain with electricity. Research shows that care can prolong aphasia in patients with advanced disease, which is the main reason people with aphasia do not leave with their loved ones, Kiran said. “It’s long and hard, but there’s a way to recover,” he said.

How to support someone with aphasia

Patience is the key. Kiran intends to delay when talking to someone with aphasia and rehearse yourself, if necessary, to make sure the person understands what you are saying. He hopes to give them a chance to talk with you, and to encourage them to draw or use activities that can demonstrate other forms of communication that are easier than words. “Make sure people don’t rush, because when they feel under pressure, the aphasia is worse,” Kiran said.

It is important to keep in touch with someone with aphasia to help them improve and prevent isolation. “Every activity they do – whether it’s watching TV, or drinking a cup of coffee or talking – is a cure for the brain, and it’s a positive effect on the brain. end, ”Kiran said. “What families need to understand is that they need to support the patient through the healing process, and not give up.”

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