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Wendy Williams Latest Hollywood Star With Aphasia

February 24, 2024

Talk show host Wendy Williams became the latest in the entertainment industry to be diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia.

The 59-year-old’s announcement comes about a year after actor Bruce Willis retired with early symptoms of aphasia, a neurological symptom of impaired speech. His family later revealed his condition progressed to include frontotemporal dementia, a condition often seen in frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD).

Eventually, this, according to Mark Alberts, MD, co-physician-in-chief of the Hartford HealthCare Ayer Neuroscience Institute, will greatly limit their ability to talk and likely permanently affect their behavior.

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Understanding frontotemporal lobar degeneration

Someone with this form of dementia often shows striking changes in personality and behavior, such as:

  • Apathy, or a lack of interest or enthusiasm
  • Disinhibition, typically socially inappropriate behavior like speaking too loudly, making hurtful or insensitive remarks, or more sociopathic behavior like shoplifting, gambling or assault
  • Obsessive rigidity
  • Lack of awareness of personal hygiene.

Anyone with PPA, on the other hand, will experience trouble with speaking or understanding conversation. Aphasia is actually a symptom rather than a disease itself. Aphasia is often caused by stroke. In patients with FTLD, the aphasia is caused by underlying neurodegenerative pathology affecting one of the language centers in the frontal or temporal lobes in the brain.

> Related: Bruce Willis’ Aphasia: A Look at This Condition With an Uncertain Cause

No cure or treatment

Patients like Williams and Willis face a progressive loss of abilities. There is no cure or disease-modifying treatment for the condition, Dr. Alberts notes.

While impossible to predict how long someone with FTLD will live, Dr. Alberts says experts expect patients will live five to seven years. Survival, he adds, can range from a few years to a few decades.

Connect with a neuroscience specialist

We care for patients with complex conditions of the brain and nervous system every day at the Ayer Neuroscience Institute, but a simplified approach works best when caring for your neurologic conditions.

Visit website Call Call 1.833.95.NEURO