Bruce Willis’ family revealed on Instagram on Thursday that the 67-year-old actor has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD).

“Since we announced Bruce’s aphasia diagnosis [une perte de la capacité à comprendre ou à exprimer la parole] in the spring of 2022, Bruce’s condition progressed and we now have a more specific diagnosis: Frontotemporal Dementia,” the Willis family wrote in a statement released by the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD). “Unfortunately, the communication difficulties are only a symptom of the disease that Bruce faces. Although it is painful, it is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis. »

What is frontotemporal dementia (FTD)?

FTD refers to a group of brain disorders that affect the frontal lobe of the brain, which manages thought, emotions, personality, judgment, self-control, movement, memory, etc. This type of dementia can also disrupt the temporal lobe, which helps process sensory stimuli. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, sufferers may see their behavior and personality deteriorate and experience difficulty producing or understanding language. Most nerve cell loss occurs in areas that control behavior, judgment, empathy, and foresight, among other abilities.

Family members and friends of someone with FTD may misinterpret bad behavior, rudeness, or socially inappropriate behavior as deliberate, which can lead to anger and arguments. People with this brain degeneration cannot control their behaviors and have no awareness of their disease.

How is frontotemporal dementia treated?

There is currently no cure or therapy to slow or stop the disease or prevent its onset. After the onset of symptoms, the average life expectancy is 7 to 13 years. As the disease worsens, people with FTD may engage in dangerous behaviors or be unable to care for themselves. They may need 24-hour nursing care or stay in an assisted living facility or nursing home.

Current treatments are supportive and may include speech therapy. Since the disease is progressive, speech therapy often makes it possible to maintain communication longer rather than make the symptoms disappear. In case of behavioral symptoms, sometimes treatments used for depression and anxiety are tried off-label (used for a condition for which they are not approved).

This type of dementia is rare, and its onset usually occurs at a younger age than other forms of dementia. About 60% of people with FTD are between the ages of 45 and 64.

“FTD is a cruel disease that many of us have never heard of and can strike anyone,” the family wrote. They now strive to raise awareness and promote research into this disease, believing that if Bruce could, he would want to bring FTD to the world’s attention and connect with others facing this disease. debilitating.

Further research is needed to determine the causes of FTD

Although the cause of FTD is unknown, researchers have linked certain subtypes of FTD to genetic mutations. Some of those affected have tiny structures called Pick’s bodies in their brain cells. Pick’s bodies contain an abnormal amount or type of protein. They are called Pick’s bodies because FTD was formerly called Pick’s disease, after Arnold Pick, a physician who in 1892 first described a patient with distinct symptoms of the disease affecting language.

A study published in September 2018 in the Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association indicates that head trauma can increase the risk of frontotemporal dementia, and that the prevalence of traumatic brain injury is significantly higher in people with frontotemporal dementia than in those with dementia. other forms of dementia.

Although there are no studies looking at possible ways to reduce the risk, common lifestyle factors that promote brain health, such as exercise, healthy diet, good sleep, and cognitive and social stimulation, may help reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disease in general.

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