March 31, 2022

What is aphasia? Bruce Willis steps away from acting after being diagnosed

Dr. Carol Persad is quoted in this Channel 4 / ClickonDetroit article. 

Link to the original article. 

Learn more about the University of Michigan’s Aphasia Program


Aphasia is more of a symptom than a true diagnosis. Someone with aphasia has issues with language and communication. It’s often caused by an underlying problem in the brain, most commonly on the left side of the brain.

Aphasia is the loss of language that typically comes from some sort of brain injury. Most commonly it’s due to a stroke, but it could be caused by a head injury, aneurysm, infection, or part of a progressive neurodegenerative disorder.

“It’s really quite something that aphasia affects over 2 million people in the United States. And it’s actually more common than Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, and muscular dystrophy combined and yet hardly anyone knows what it is,” Dr. Carol Persad, Director of the University of Michigan’s Aphasia Program, said.

The loss of language with aphasia can take different forms. Some people are unable to speak fluently, others may be able to speak fluently but the words don’t make sense and others are unable to comprehend what’s being said.

“What’s really important to understand is that aphasia is a loss of language. It’s not a loss of intellect and yet many people view that person with aphasia as being stupid or having an intellectual impairment and are treated very differently -- and it is extremely frustrating,” Persad said.