Home News Aphasia: what is this disease that affects Bruce Willis?

Aphasia: what is this disease that affects Bruce Willis?


The world of cinema and the general public learned, amazed, this Wednesday, March 30, that Bruce Willis, 67, was ending his career due to “health problems”, according to the announcement made by his family. The American actor indeed suffers from aphasia. What is this disease known in particular to cause language disorders?

According to specialists from the Mayo Clinic, a world-renowned American health establishment, aphasia often occurs after a stroke or head trauma and prevents the patient from communicating normally.

“It can affect your ability to speak, write and understand language, both in oral and written form,” they explained in a statement to Agence France-Presse.

A first description of the disease to be linked to the declaration made by the family of Bruce Willis on Instagram.

“Our beloved Bruce has been experiencing some health issues and was recently diagnosed with aphasia which is impacting his cognitive abilities. Therefore, and after careful consideration, Bruce is leaving this career that has meant so much to him,” she wrote on the social network.

Everything that used to be natural becomes complicated

In a booklet entitled “Aphasia, do you know?”, produced for those around people with aphasia by the Raymond Poincaré hospital in Berck, doctors explain that “everything that was natural before can become difficult or impossible: to discuss, to understand, to telephone, to watch television, to read the newspaper, to listen to the radio, to write a letter or even to do the accounts.

But be careful, they still specify, aphasia is not a psychic disorder or a mental handicap. “The intellectual abilities of the aphasic person are preserved. The aphasic person is not deaf. The aphasic person has no voice problems.

A disease that can affect anyone

Moreover, this disease has nothing to do with age. Aphasia can affect anyone. “It is found at all ages of life, in both men and women, and in all social categories. It is estimated that there are around 250,000 aphasic people in France. Each year, around 15,000 people would become aphasic”, indicate speech therapists Maëlle Boulin, Anne-Laure Hugon and Gaëlle Le Bornec, authors of the booklet.

Why is language affected?

If language is affected in the context of aphasia, it is because this function is controlled by the brain. It is the organ that allows the expression and understanding of language.

The brain consists of two parts: the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere. Each half or “hemisphere” controls different areas. In the majority of people, language is located in the left hemisphere. In aphasia, it is this part of the brain that is damaged.