Bruce Willis is an amazing actor that has played some of the most memorable characters in movies. Sadly, the movie star is retiring from acting because he is suffering from a condition known as aphasia. Aphasia is a condition that affects a person’s ability to communicate effectively. It causes issues with expressing and understanding speech, either temporarily or for the rest of their lives.
What are the causes of aphasia?
Aphasia can occur after a person has either experienced a stroke or a brain injury. (Aphasia can also develop from degenerative processes or a slow growing brain tumor.) When a person experiences a loss of blood to the brain due to a stroke, the brain cells are at risk of dying and causing damage in parts of the brain that deal with language. The damage that a person experiences from a brain injury can cause different cognitive problems like confusion and memory loss, and can also lead to difficulties with speech. While no explanation has been offered about the cause of Willis’ aphasia, he was known for doing his own stunt work, and so it is possible that he sustained brain trauma over the course of his 40 year career.
The different patterns of aphasia
There are different forms of aphasia which, according to Johns Hopkins, are “based on which area of the language-dominant side of the brain is affected and the extent of the damage.” Those forms are:
- Comprehensive aphasia. Here, people are able to speak in long, fluent, and complex sentences, but they may use words that are unrecognizable or used in the incorrect context as they speak. They are also unable to comprehend spoken language and fail to understand that others do not understand them.
- Expressive aphasia. People experience this pattern of aphasia when they fail to get words out or speak in short sentences with certain words omitted. People with this type of aphasia are able to understand people better than they are able to be understood by other people.
- Global aphasia. People suffering with this type of aphasia have serious difficulty comprehending information and forming words. This particular form of aphasia results from serious damage to the brain that deals with language.
Although aphasia primarily affects a person’s speech patterns, a person’s ability to comprehend and perform tasks like reading and writing can also be affected. It is important to remember, however, that this condition does not affect a person’s intelligence. Patients with aphasia know what message they would like to communicate; they just have issues relaying that message to others. The inability to communicate with friends, family, and associates will be difficult and frustrating. It can leave them unable to work or care for themselves, or to engage in social activities.
The extent of the injury will depend on how mild or moderate aphasia is for you or your loved one. For example, you may experience a mild form of aphasia if you constantly cannot remember a particular word. You may have a more severe form of aphasia, however, if you feel as if you are in a foreign country and are unable to understand what is going on around you.
What are the symptoms of aphasia?
If you suspect that you or your loved one may suffer from aphasia, here are some of the symptoms that a person with the condition may experience:
- Speaking in short and disjointed sentences
- Speaking in sentences that do not make sense and are difficult to comprehend
- Replacing one word or sound for another
- Using words that are unrecognizable
- Failing to understand other people’s conversations
- Writing sentences that are difficult to understand
What are the treatments for aphasia?
There are many different types of treatments for aphasia. The type of treatment that will be recommended to you or your loved one will depend on the goals that you want to accomplish for your recovery. For example, some patients are less concerned with improving their speech patterns and more concerned with adapting to different forms of communication and participating with their family. There are many medical professionals, from speech pathologists to long-term care residential aides, that can work one-on-one with you or your loved one to assist with daily living skills. Even after you begin to witness improvement, you can continue to practice these skills for the rest of your life.
If you or your loved one experienced a traumatic brain injury and suspect that you may suffer from aphasia, contact an experienced Maryland traumatic brain injury today. At Plaxen Adler Muncy, PA, we are by your side at every step of the way. Call us at 410-730-7737 or complete our contact form. We have offices throughout the state of Maryland. Initial consultations are free.