New York: Actor Bruce Willis's medical condition was inaccurately reported by the media, reveals a new research paper published by the Oxford University Press. As per the journal, Bruce, who had initially been diagnosed with aphasia (an acquired language impairment) was later found to suffer from frontotemporal degeneration. Rather than describing how frontotemporal degeneration was discovered to be the underlying source of Willis’ aphasia, many reports described his aphasia as 'progressing into' frontotemporal degeneration, implying they are two different disorders.
Soon after the family released the second diagnosis, CBS evening news host Norah O’Donnell declared that Bruce's family said the actor 'has progressed into frontotemporal dementia, which impacts personality, behaviour, and language.' Similarly, Entertainment Tonight reported that the family “… revealed that his brain disease has progressed to frontotemporal dementia.”
The paper maintained that the statements were inaccurate. “His aphasia did not turn into frontotemporal degeneration. His aphasia was a symptom of frontotemporal degeneration and after ten months his doctors had figured out the underlying condition,” the research noted.
The journal also speculated that the media found that aphasia developing into something else made for a better narrative. An esoteric and complicated story about diagnostic clarification is not nearly as interesting as a story of a movie star suffering further hardship, it noted.
“Given the confusion surrounding frontotemporal degeneration, the courageous disclosure by the Willis family is a model for educating the public about this still hidden disease,” said Steven M Albert, the editor-in-chief of Innovation in Aging, which published the paper.
(With IANS inputs)