Bruce Willis’ family gave an update on the actor’s health Thursday, announcing his condition has progressed and has been diagnosed as frontotemporal dementia.
“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,” his family said in a statement.
“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,” the statement said.
Willis’ family — including wife Emma Heming Willis, ex-wife Demi Moore and his daughters — first disclosed his diagnosis of aphasia back in 2022. They said at the time that Willis was suffering from a medical condition that was affecting his cognitive abilities and would be taking a break from acting.
“Bruce always believed in using his voice in the world to help others, and to raise awareness about important issues both publicly and privately,” his family’s new statement said. “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.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, frontotemporal dementia is an “umbrella term for a group of brain disorders that primarily affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. These areas of the brain are generally associated with personality, behavior and language.”
What is frontotemporal dementia?
Frontotemporal dementia, or FTD, represents a group of brain disorders cause by the degeneration of the frontal and/or temporal lobes of the brain, the AFTD says. Those parts of the brain are generally associated with personality, behavior and language, the Mayo Clinic says.
There are different types of frontotemporal dementia. Behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia causes nerve loss in the areas of the brain that control empathy, judgment and conduct.
Primary progressive aphasia deteriorates parts of the brain that control speaking, writing and comprehension. The onset of symptoms typically begins before age 65, but can occur later.
How is FTD different from Alzheimer’s?
Diagnosis of FTD tends to happen between a person in their 40s and 60s, while Alzheimer’s happens at a later age. Alzheimer’s is also more closely tied to hallucinations, memory loss and issues with spatial orientation, such as getting lost.
Treatment and diagnosis
Doctors use brain imaging technology, such as MRIs, to diagnose FTD. The results are analyzed in tandem with a patient’s medical history and symptoms. About 30% of people with frontotemporal degeneration inherit the disease; there are no known risk factors.
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