Aphasia result of brain injury as Bruce Willis quits acting after diagnosis

Bruce Willis, the legendary Hollywood actor known for blockbusters such as Pulp Fiction, Die Hard and Looper, has announced that he will be retiring from acting due to a health condition.

The news will bring sadness to fans everywhere, with so many having enjoyed his films for so long – Willis was always the reluctantly prepared hardman who would never run from a fight, a reliable name to trust for an enjoyable action flick.

For most people, Willis will be best remembered as Die Hard police officer John McClane, screaming “Yippee-kai-ay” as he guns down terrorists in the name of love and honour.

But what has brought an end to such a well-loved actor and father of five’s career?

What condition does Bruce Willis have?

Willis has a condition called aphasia, which his family say is "impacting his cognitive abilities".

In a joint statement, the family of the 67-year-old Armageddon star said: "With much consideration Bruce is stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him.

"This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support."

The Daily Star spoke to Dr Gareth Nye of the Chester Medical School to explain what the condition is, what causes it and what the chances of recovery are.

What is aphasia?

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Dr Nye said: “Aphasia affects about two million people in the US and 250,000 people in the UK. Nearly 180,000 people acquire the disorder every year in the US alone

“It's basically as a result of brain injury, this could be physical injury or a stroke, disease or a neurodegenerative disease like dementia. Most commonly it's due to strokes in anyone over 50. The damage is in specific areas of the brain and leads to a loss of the nerves within the brain that help us understand and communicate language.”

Aspasia is more common among people over 65 and can make it hard for people to speak, talk and write. Often sufferers will make mistakes with the words they use.

Dr Nye pointed out that in order for a diagnosis to be made, certain speech criteria must be met.

“To be diagnosed with aphasia, a person's speech or language must be significantly impaired in one (or more) of the four aspects of communication – auditory understanding, verbal speech, reading and writing or functional communication,” he said.

“Alternately, in the case of progressive aphasia, it must have significantly declined over a short period of time.

“The difficulties of people with aphasia can range from occasional trouble finding words, to losing the ability to speak, read, or write.”

Can you recover from aphasia?

“If the symptoms of aphasia last longer than two or three months after a stroke in particular, a complete recovery is unlikely. However, some people continue to improve over a period of years and even decades. The odds of a full recovery are low.”

Could Bruce Willis ever act again?

Bruce himself has said he'll be stepping away from acting, but even so the chances of him acting again are low, said Dr Nye.

“Despite emerging research and new techniques, they are unlikely to be widely available within the next five to 10 years," he explained.

"I would imagine if his condition is severe enough to limit his ability to act, whether it's reading lines or speaking, then recovery in the short term is unlikely.”

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