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Early detection in spotlight after actor Bruce Willis diagnosed with cognitive disease

Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 10:59 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The importance of early detection is in the spotlight after the news that Bruce Willis will retire from acting after being diagnosed with aphasia, a disease that impacts cognitive abilities.

Aphasia impacts the part of the brain that is responsible for language and affects a patient’s ability to read, write, and speak.

Strokes resulting in brain damage is the number one cause of aphasia but it can also be caused by degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The Willis family has not revealed what caused the actor to develop the disease.

Susan Parriott, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota/North Dakota chapter, says she wants to encourage anyone who may be experiencing a loss in cognitive abilities to make sure they are open with their doctor and advocate for themselves.

“Not being afraid to go and ask your physician and really pushing them to say, hey, I noticed something’s wrong And your family and yourself, you know, something is not quite normal,” said Parriott. “If your primary care physician is not able to diagnose it or is really unsure, make sure you get referred to a specialist.”

Parriott says with early detection, individuals have the opportunity to prolong their lives.

“There are resources like the Alzheimer’s association that we can help a person through this progression,” said Parriott. “There may be opportunities to participate in clinical trials a s more drugs become available. You should be able to have drugs that may help prevent something or slow it down a progression of the disease.”

Make sure to see a doctor if you have difficulty speaking, understanding speech or difficulty with word recall.

For more information on aphasia, check out the National Aphasia Association’s website: https://www.aphasia.org

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