COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – Not many people had heard of aphasia until it was reported one day last week that actor Bruce Willis was suddenly retiring from acting to battle a brain disease. .
As often happens, it’s only when famous people get a mysterious illness that they realize it…like Robin Williams when he committed suicide after suffering from another brain disease known as dementia with Lewy bodies.
The disease called aphasia, which currently afflicts Bruce Willis, is similar to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but not the same.
We don’t yet know the severity of the aphasia Bruce Willis is experiencing, but aphasia causes difficulties with speech, communication, and sometimes comprehension.
Aphasia doesn’t always lead to Alzheimer’s disease, but it does. The main difference is that Alzheimer’s patients do not have access to memories containing the people they once recognized. People with Alzheimer’s disease cannot remember simple tasks such as holding a fork or a spoon.
People with aphasia can hold a fork and eat by themselves. They have no memory problems, but aphasia prevents the brain from processing speech and meaning of words.
Bruce Willis’ diagnosis is a sad reminder of the fragility of life and how everything can change in an instant.
Whether it’s aphasia, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, brain dysfunction has devastating consequences for patients and their families.
But there is always hope.
Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter offers easy and fun ways to help fight a cruel brain disease.
They call it the Dancing Stars of Columbus, where local celebrities partner with professionals to perform competitive dances and raise money, much like a network TV show.
Our anchor, Barbara Gauthier, is one of this year’s dancing stars, and she’s been practicing hard.
You can help her raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Society at wtvm.com, which has a link to Dancing Star’s donation page.
Research to cure brain disease is urgent and expensive, so a donation to Barbara or another fundraiser would be appreciated.
But if everyone gets involved, the researchers will one day make a breakthrough that will make all this old news.
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