March 31, 2022
(Rockville, MD) The recent announcement by Bruce Willis’s family that the actor has been diagnosed with aphasia has brought attention to the language disorder, which is relatively common but not well known by the general public. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) encourages the public and media to seek out evidence-based information about this condition—and stresses that treatment is available from speech-language pathologists (SLPs).
Below is some information about the language disorder. More details are available on ASHA’s website.
Aphasia is a language disorder that can occur when a person experiences changes in the brain from injury or disease. This is most often due to stroke; however, any type of brain damage can cause aphasia. Aphasia can make it hard for someone to understand, speak, read, or write. This depends on the parts of the brain that are affected. Aphasia is not associated with cognitive deficits. However, word-finding difficulty—a hallmark symptom of aphasia—may also be an early symptom of other neurological conditions, such as primary progressive aphasia, that are accompanied by cognitive impairments.
SLPs evaluate a person’s speech and language skills. In making a diagnosis, they will assess how well a person:
Aphasia can be treated in various ways, depending on the specific difficulties that a person is having and what their goals are (e.g., getting back to work, taking care of family members, participating in specific life activities). SLPs work with people with aphasia one on one, as well as in groups, to improve their communication skills. SLPs may also help them find other ways to share ideas when they have trouble talking. This may include drawing, pointing, or using other gestures (called augmentative and alternative communication, or AAC). They also include family members who support their loved one’s communication.
Loved ones can help their family member or friend by connecting them with a certified SLP. A doctor can provide recommendations for local SLPs. A national database of these professionals is also available at www.asha.org/profind.
As you communicate with a person with aphasia in everyday life, use these tips:
Experts are available for media interviews upon request. Please contact ASHA Public Relations at email@example.com.
About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 223,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) identify, assess, and treat speech, language, and swallowing disorders.