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Demystifying Aphasia in Light of the Diagnosis of Bruce Willis

March 31, 2022

Brain Aphasia MRI

Celebrated actor Bruce Willis, known for his roles in the Die Hard franchise, The Sixth Sense, and Armageddon, among others, has announced that he is “stepping away” from acting due to aphasia.

Aphasia is a condition that affects an individual’s language abilities. It does not affect intelligence. Aphasia can present in multiple forms and vary in severity, creating challenges in speaking, understanding, reading, and/or writing. For example, people with aphasia may use incorrect or inappropriate words when expressing themselves, or they may find that they have difficulty comprehending the speech of others. It is not known what type or severity of aphasia Bruce Willis has at this time.

Aphasia is the result of damage to the areas of the brain that are responsible for language, which are on the left side for most individuals. In the majority of cases, aphasia occurs suddenly due to brain injury, specifically stroke. However, other causes may include progressive neurological disease or brain tumor, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

“At the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), we provide support to individuals with brain injuries who display a wide range of symptoms – from aphasia to spasticity to pseudobulbar affect,” said Susan H. Connors, president and CEO of BIAA. “Every brain injury is unique, and disorders such as aphasia can be complicated to understand, diagnose, and treat. This is why it is essential to invest in research and advocacy towards cures for brain injuries and to promote awareness of these misunderstood conditions.”

BIAA wishes Bruce Willis and his family strength as they navigate aphasia. The Association provides a list of tips on communicating with individuals with aphasia, as it can be a challenge to understand how best to engage.

As part of broader awareness efforts, including the #MoreThanMyBrainInjury campaign, BIAA has an open call to survivors of brain injury to submit personal stories about their experiences online. Numerous individuals have provided narratives regarding their journeys with aphasia over the years. Below is a selection of a few:

  1. Tom Broussard
  2. Annemarie Albiston
  3. Tina Callahan
  4. Greg Fraser

The Association is proud to support individuals with brain injury at all points during their experience – from injury to diagnosis through recovery and life as a survivor. Individuals in need of resources and support after brain injury should contact BIAA’s National Brain Injury Information Center at 1-800-444-6443.



About the Brain Injury Association of America
The Brain Injury Association of America is the country’s oldest and largest nationwide brain injury advocacy organization. Our mission is to advance awareness, research, treatment, and education and to improve the quality of life for all people affected by brain injury. We are dedicated to increasing access to quality health care and raising awareness and understanding of brain injury.