Bruce Willis dementia diagnosed : desease is evolving from an aphasia diagnosis last spring, his family announced Thursday

Specif­i­cal­ly, Willis has fron­totem­po­ral demen­tia, which includes apha­sia, which can make it dif­fi­cult for him to speak and write.

“Unfor­tu­nate­ly, com­mu­ni­ca­tion prob­lems are just one symp­tom of the ill­ness Bruce is fac­ing,” the fam­i­ly said. “It’s painful, but I’m relieved to final­ly have a def­i­nite diagnosis.”

Willis’ fam­i­ly said last year that the actor was step­ping down from a decades-long career due to cog­ni­tive impairment.

What is fron­totem­po­ral dementia?

Fron­totem­po­ral demen­tia, also known as FTD, is one of sev­er­al types of demen­tia that caus­es nerve dam­age in the frontal and tem­po­ral lobes, lead­ing to decreased func­tion in these areas, accord­ing to the Alzheimer’s Association.

There are dif­fer­ent types of fron­totem­po­ral demen­tia. Behav­ioral-alter­ing fron­totem­po­ral demen­tia caus­es neu­ro­log­i­cal decline in areas of the brain respon­si­ble for empa­thy, judg­ment, and behavior.

Pri­ma­ry pro­gres­sive apha­sia affects areas of the brain that con­trol speech, writ­ing, and com­pre­hen­sion. Symp­toms usu­al­ly begin before age 65, but may appear later.

FTD also impairs motor func­tion and move­ment and is some­times clas­si­fied as Lou Gehrig’s dis­ease, also known as ALS.

How is FTD dif­fer­ent from Alzheimer’s dis­ease?
FTD is usu­al­ly diag­nosed between the ages of 40 and 60, where­as Alzheimer’s demen­tia is diag­nosed lat­er in life. Alzheimer’s dis­ease is also asso­ci­at­ed with more spa­tial prob­lems such as hal­lu­ci­na­tions, mem­o­ry loss, and get­ting lost.

Treat­ment and diag­no­sis
Doc­tors diag­nose FTD using brain imag­ing tech­niques such as MRI scans. The results are ana­lyzed along with the patien­t’s med­ical his­to­ry and symp­toms. About 30% of peo­ple with fron­totem­po­ral degen­er­a­tion inher­it the dis­or­der and have no known risk factors.

Med­ica­tions are avail­able to relieve symp­toms, but symp­toms wors­en over time.

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