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Episode 55: Aphasia – The brain injury afflicting Bruce Willis and 2 million other Americans

It’s called Aphasia

It affects over 2 million Americans with nearly 180,000 diagnosed with the disorder annually and is more prevalent than Parkinson’s Disease.

Aphasia impairs the ability to speak, to find the correct words to express your thoughts, or in some individuals, to understand what others are saying.

Aphasia is a brain injury.  The most common cause is a stroke, but it can also be caused by a brain tumor, an infection in the brain known as encephalitis and yes, even a traumatic brain injury caused by head trauma.

Like other brain injuries, it is a silent epidemic and those who are victims rarely obtain the assistance and support they need.

And like other types of brain injury, this condition does not rob an individual of their intelligence but does leave then trapped as prisoners in their own body. 

“You can imagine how frustrating it is if you can’t find words, if you can’t organize words into sentences, if you can’t get your mouth to produce the sounds you want it to produce” is an apt description of the difficulties and frustrations faced by victims according to John Hopkins Medical Center researchers.  “You are still yourself … but you may not sound like yourself.”

Aphasia requires increased funding for research for finding a cure and until then, increase funding for the necessary speech and language rehabilitation that is necessary.

It requires laws that protect victims and requires health insurance plans to include these services as part of any insurance plan, not in days or weeks, but with sufficient benefits to truly provide adequate therapy by speech and language pathologists.

Just yesterday, we were informed that actor Bruce Willis has been forced to retire due to this condition.  A tragedy, and I wish him and his family all that anyone can hope for in terms of a recovery.  But, not everyone has the resources of a noted celebrity, and why did we need to wait until aphasia impacted a noteworthy individual before the news media, and others woke up to this devastating injury?

A brain injury can happen anytime, anyone, and anyplace.

Isn’t it time we devote the necessary resources to finding a cure?

Audio version

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