Bruce Willis' family announced almost a year ago that the actor was suffering from aphasia, and would step away from his acting career. Aphasia affected Willis' cognitive abilities and causes loss of the ability to understand or express speech.
Yesterday, his family gave the world an update and said that Willis has now been diagnosed with FTD, 'frontotemporal dementia.' Aphasia can be a symptom of FTD, but FTD is a group of brain disorders caused by degeneration of the frontal and or temporal lobes of the brain that affects behavior, language and movement. It leads to an inevitable decline in functioning with an average life expectancy of 7-13 years after the onset of symptoms.
In a statement on the website for the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, the family said:
"Since we announced Bruce’s diagnosis of aphasia in spring 2022, Bruce’s condition has progressed and we now have a more specific diagnosis: frontotemporal dementia (known as FTD). Unfortunately, challenges with communication are just one symptom of the disease Bruce faces. While this is painful, it is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis. FTD is a cruel disease that many of us have never heard of and can strike anyone.
Today there are no treatments for the disease, a reality that we hope can change in the years ahead. As Bruce's condition advances, we hope that any media attention can be focused on shining a light on this disease that needs far more awareness and research.
Bruce always believed in using his voice in the world to help others, and to raise awareness about important issues both publicly and privately. We know in our hearts that – if he could today -- he would want to respond by bringing global attention and a connectedness with those who are also dealing with this debilitating disease and how it impacts so many individuals and their families. "
We reached out to Dr. Dung Trinh, Chief Medical Officer, The Healthy Brain Clinic to talk about the diagnosis and what it means.