Actor Bruce Willis has been diagnosed with aphasia is putting a spotlight on the condition — a disorder that can make it hard for a person to communicate. 

“As a family we wanted to share that our beloved Bruce has been experiencing some health issues and has recently been diagnosed with aphasia,  

which is impacting his cognitive abilities,” read a note posted on his daughter Rumer Willis’ Instagram account and signed by other family members. 

“As a result of this and with much consideration Bruce is stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him.” 

What is aphasia? It happens when there is damage to portions of the brain responsible for language, usually in the left hemisphere,

affecting a person’s ability to produce and understand speech, as well as the ability to read and write, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. 

It can happen suddenly — after a stroke, head injury or gunshot wound, for example — but may also develop slowly if there is a brain tumor or a progressive neurological disease. 

How is aphasia treated? Depending on the extent and cause of the brain injury, speech-language therapy can help. There is no cure, though most people improve over time.

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