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Hollywood legend Bruce Willis’ family has been hailed for their candid admission about the star’s aphasia diagnosis.
In an Instagram statement, daughter Rumer Willis confirmed on behalf of the family Bruce, 68, would be retiring from his career to focus on his health back in 2022.
Aphasia is a condition affecting language, specifically the production or comprehension of speech as well as the ability to read or write.
The family followed up with a statement in February this year sharing further details about Bruce’s specific condition, which is frontotemporal dementia (FTD).
FTD is also known as frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) or Pick’s disease and is part of a group of brain disorders, which are caused by the frontal and or temporal lobes of the brain.
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The condition can affect behaviour, language and movement but it differs for each sufferer.
Sadly though, FTD leads to a decline in an individual which can vary from two to 20 years. There is currently no cure for aphasia or FTD.
Bruce’s wife Emma Hemming Willis has been raising awareness about his condition on social media and sharing poignant updates about the Die Hard star.
In an exclusive interview with Daily Express US, the President of the National Aphasia Association (NAA) Darlene S. Williamson addressed the impact the news had had on the public.
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Williamson said: “The short answer is that almost instantaneously the Willis announcement changed recognition of the word aphasia.
“Although Mr Willis’ aphasia is a very specific type of aphasia which is quite different from the aphasia acquired as the result of a stroke or traumatic brain injury, nonetheless as the organization that represents all families dealing with aphasia this kind of publicity was welcomed.
“We are grateful to the Willis family for using the actual term aphasia.”
The NAA executive said the announcement also led to huge media interest as well as people directly visiting the non-profit organization’s site.
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A post shared by Rumer Glenn Willis (@rumerwillis)
The NAA was set up in 1987 and aims to advocate for aphasia sufferers and their families as well as providing access to research, education and rehabilitation to those affected and their caregivers.
The organisation runs surveys every four years on the awareness surrounding aphasia and research from 2020 showing only 13.8 percent of respondents admitting they’d heard of ‘aphasia’, while just seven percent identified it as a disorder relating to language.
However, the NAA decided to conduct another survey three months after Bruce’s announcement with the response proving to be a staggering change.
Around 67.8 percent of respondents had heard of the term and moreover, 40 percent could now correctly identify the condition affecting language.
Williamson said the increase was “astounding” and hailed the family, considering the NAA’s research also showed nearly a quarter of respondents had heard about aphasia through a news outlet.
She continued: “The single biggest desire of people living with aphasia is that the public would recognize the term.
“That they could go into a place of business and communicate that they have aphasia and the person would say, “Oh, yes. I’ll slow down and I’ll give you time to communicate.
“The chances of that happening increased exponentially following the Willis announcement.”
Williamson added: “The family was very brave to put out this information and the NAA is extremely grateful to them for providing us the opportunity to educate the public.”
For more information about aphasia, please visit aphasia.org
For more information about FTD please visit theaftd.org
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