"Actor Bruce Willis diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia"

"Aphasia, the Brain Disorder That Ended Bruce Willis' Career" (april 2022)

"Actor Bruce Willis diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia" (february 2023)

What are aphasia and frontotemporal dementia? What is the relationship between both?

Frontotemporal dementia is a neurodegenerative disorder and represents the fourth most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer's Disease, Vascular Dementia, and Dementia with Lewy Bodies.

It appears in a younger age and is manifested by cognitive and behavioral changes, namely the change in "people's temper". The affected person may become more disinhibited, impulsive, or, on the contrary, more apathetic and without initiative. The disease can also manifest itself with aphasia which corresponds to an impairment in language. The patient begins to have difficulty expressing himself orally (he cannot say the words he is thinking) or understanding what is said to him. He may also have difficulty writing or reading.

People with frontotemporal dementia often have a positive family history of dementia and it is most likely to be caused by a single-gene change. 

It is essential to make a correct diagnosis of the disease to allow for better treatment and proper genetic counseling. This diagnosis is also important to educate the patient, family, and caregivers and to provide multidisciplinary care that minimizes the impact of the disease.


Text by Camila Nóbrega and Joana Morgado, neurologists at CNS.