VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.-- A shocking announcement today from Hollywood, the family of megastar Bruce Willis announcing the actor will be stepping away from his legendary acting career.
The legendary Die Hard actor shared the news that he was diagnosed with aphasia. Many of us have never heard of it, but it's actually quite common.
According to the National Aphasia Association, the brain disorder is more common than Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, or muscular dystrophy-affecting some 2 million Americans with 180,000 people diagnosed each year.
Depending on the type of aphasia someone has, it can often affect a person's ability to communicate making it hard to speak, write, read, or even understand what others are saying based on which part of the brain is affected.
Today we spoke to a local speech pathologist who told us that at times it can be a very isolating and frustrating disease.
"Depending on the type, you have what you want to say, but in some cases, you just can't get those words out. You have it pictured inside your head, you can describe all this other stuff, but the actual name of whatever you're thinking of just doesn't come out,” said Allison Walker, a speech pathologist and augmentative communication specialist with Adler Therapy Group.
“Now, if you have it to where you don't comprehend at all, and everything flows very quickly, none of it makes sense at all. So, if you can't get it to the point where it makes sense, then you can't communicate your basic wants and needs."
Allison says aphasia can be caused by traumatic brain injuries, stroke, or even dementia.
It is not clear which, if any, of those factors caused Willis to develop the disorder.
And even though it can be a difficult diagnosis, Walker says it can get better with therapy and working on word finding techniques.
Bruce Willis is stepping away from acting as he battles health issues, his family said.
The actor's daughter, Rumer, posted on Instagram that her father has been "diagnosed with aphasia, which is impacting his cognitive abilities."
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), aphasia is a disorder that is caused by damage to portions of the brain that are responsible for language.
"Aphasia usually occurs suddenly, often following a stroke or head injury, but it may also develop slowly, as the result of a brain tumor or a progressive neurological disease," the NIH says.
It's unclear what health issues Bruce Willis was dealing with prior to his diagnosis.
"This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support," the family's statement said.
According to IMDB, Willis has credits in 145 movies and TV shows. The 67-year-old has earned three Emmy awards for his work.