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Bruce Willis is "stepping away" from his acting career due to aphasia diagnosis, family says

Hollywood star Bruce Willis is "stepping away" from his career due to a recent diagnosis of aphasia, a language disorder that impacts a person's ability to communicate, his family said Wednesday. 

"To Bruce's amazing supporters, as a family we wanted to share that our beloved Bruce has been experiencing some health issues and has recently been diagnosed with aphasia, which is impacting his cognitive abilities," his family wrote in a post on his daughter Rumer's Instagram account. "As a result of this and with much consideration Bruce is stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him."

"This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support," his family added. "We are moving through this as a strong family unit, and wanted to bring his fans in because we know how much he means to you, as you do to him." 

The post was signed by Willis' current wife, Emma Heming Willis, as well as former wife, actress Demi Moore, and his children Rumer, Scout, Tallulah, Mabel and Evelyn. Demi, Scout and Tallulah all posted the same message on their own Instagram pages. 

Willis, 67, is best known for his starring role as New York City cop John McClane in the "Die Hard" films, though his acting career has spanned decades and included "Pulp Fiction," "The Sixth Sense," and the television series "Moonlighting." He has won more than 20 awards, including a Golden Globe for "Moonlighting" and one Primetime Emmy each for "Moonlighting" and his appearance on "Friends," according to his IMDB profile.  

He was married to Moore for 13 years before their divorce in 2000, and had three children. He is now married to Heming Willis, with whom he has two children. 

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, aphasia is a language disorder that results from damage in the area of the brain that controls language expression and comprehension. The disorder "leaves a person unable to communicate effectively with others," Johns Hopkins said, noting that the severity of the disorder depends on which parts of the brain are impacted. An aphasia diagnosis does not necessarily mean cognitive abilities, like memory or executive functioning, are impacted, according to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association. 

Johns Hopkins said there are multiple causes for aphasia, including a stroke, head injury, brain tumor, infection or dementia. It is not clear which, if any, of those factors caused Willis to develop the disorder. 

It is possible for people with aphasia to recover completely, and speech therapy can help people recover some speech and language functions, Johns Hopkins said — but most will permanently retain some form of aphasia. 

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