Bruce Willis diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. A doctor explains what it is

Dristi Sharma
Dristi SharmaFeb 17, 2023 | 12:51

Bruce Willis diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. A doctor explains what it is

'Forgetting things is just of the symptoms of Dementia'. Photo: dailyO

Nearly a year after Bruce Willis stepped back from acting, his family announced that he is suffering from frontotemporal dementia and that his condition is getting worse. In a statement on February 16, the 67-year-old actor's family said that they are relieved 'to finally have a clear diagnosis'. 

While this is painful, it is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis. FTD is a cruel disease that many of us have never heard of and can strike anyone. 
- Bruce Willis's family in a statement 

In March 2022, Willis was diagnosed with aphasia - which causes difficulties with speech - but this has progressed and he has been given a more specific diagnosis of dementia, the family said.

Photo:Bruce Willis and Emma Heming Willis/Getty Images

DailyO asked Dr Shyam Sharma, 75, MBBS, General Physician, about dementia and he said that there are no 'treatments available for the disease', something that the Willis family also said.  


Today there are no treatments for the disease, a reality that we hope can change in the years ahead. As Bruce's condition advances, we hope that any media attention can be focused on shining a light on this disease that needs far more awareness and research.
- The statement 

What is dementia?

"Forgetting things is just one of the symptoms of dementia", Willis's family said in the released statement. Dr Shyam agrees with this, and adds that there is no specific age limit and that it can strike anyone. Dementia is a name for problems with mental abilities caused by gradual changes and damage in the brain.

In dementia, the person slowly starts forgetting everything. Soon the person can't even recall his name.
- Dr Shyam Sharma

He further adds that frontotemporal dementia is different from normal dementia: 

  • Frontotemporal dementia affects the front and sides of the brain (the frontal and temporal lobes).
  • It is an uncommon type of dementia that causes problems with behaviour and language.
  • Symptoms also include slow or stiff movements, loss of bladder or bowel control - although this tends to be later on - and muscle weakness.

Dementia mostly affects individuals over the age of 65, however, frontotemporal dementia appears at an earlier age. The majority of instances are diagnosed in persons aged 45 to 65, however, it can also affect younger or older people.


Causes and treatment 

As mentioned above, there is no treatment available for dementia; however, the NHS website explains that there are several medicines, therapies and support groups that can help to manage the behavioural problems and help the person.  

Bruce Willis is a famous American actor and has gained fame from portraying John McClane in the Die Hard franchise (1988-2013). 

Photo: Bruce Willis in the movie Die Hard

He also was known for his role in playing the leading role in the series Moonlighting. He has been nominated for five Golden Globes (won one) and three Emmys (won two). 

Last updated: February 19, 2023 | 12:09
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