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Photo: Rich Fury / Stringer (Shutterstock) Bruce Willis’ family wrote on Instagram that the actor will be retiring due to health issues, including most recently a diagnosis of aphasia. Aphasia is a disorder that can affect a person’s ability to communicate. What is aphasia? There are several types of aphasia, but what they have in common is an inability to speak or to understand speech. (The word is from Greek roots meaning “without speech.”) While lots of medical conditions can result in problems with speech, aphasia refers to a problem that occurs specifically in the areas of the brain that are responsible for language. A person with aphasia can still have completely normal cognition otherwise, and no physical issues with their ears or mouth, but find themselves unable to say what they mean or understand what they hear. For example: There is a region of the brain known as Wernicke’s area that plays a large role in language processing. Damage to this part of the brain can result in Wernicke’s aphasia, where a person can still speak but has trouble understanding others and themselves. One classical symptom is to speak in long sentences that don’t always make sense. Meanwhile, another part of the brain called Broca’s area is involved in producing language, and damage to this area is called Broca’s aphasia. People with this form of aphasia may be able to say a few words, but have trouble connecting them into sentences. There are other types of aphasia, including […]