GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)– It’s a brain disorder– more common than Parkinson’s disease or cerebral palsy, yet many had never heard of it until A-list celebrity, Bruce Willis was diagnosed.

As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis, we spoke with a neurologist to better understand “Aphasia” which affects some 2 million Americans.

Aphasia is a disorder that results from damage to portions of the brain that are responsible for language.

“I think that probably the simplest way to explain it is that it’s an impairment in the ability to communicate.”

Dr. Paul LaPenna, Neurologist, Bon Secours St. Franics

Dr. Paul LaPenna, a neurologist, says someone with aphasia will have difficulty speaking.

“Their sentences may be fragmented. They may have difficulty finding the right words,” said Dr. LaPenna

Aphasia also affects someone’s ability to write and read and comprehend what was read.

“As a neurologist, I see it almost on a daily basis,” said Dr. LaPenna.

Doctor LaPenna says about one in every 250 people has aphasia.

“Aphasia is a symptom of a disease, but it is not itself a disease,” said Dr. LaPenna.

A number of things can cause aphasia like an impairment or a disease in the left hemisphere of the brain.

“That can be a stroke. That can be a brain tumor. That could be a form of dementia. It could be anything that affects that area of the brain, traumatic brain injury, and so on, and so on,” said Dr. LaPenna.

You are more at risk for aphasia as you age.

“But, it’s not aging that’s causing the aphasia. It’s just that major causes of aphasia include things like dementia and stroke and those diseases are just more present as we age,” said Dr. LaPenna.

But, a young person can be at risk too.

“Aphasia could happen, for example, on someone who’s very young, from a traumatic brain injury from a car accident or something like that,” said Dr. LaPenna.

Sometimes the causes of aphasia can be prevented.

“So, for me, the number one cause of aphasia that I see is stroke. And to a large extent, stroke can be prevented. So, not smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol in moderation, eating well, and exercising on a regular basis,” said Dr. LaPenna.

Dr. Paul LaPenna, Neurologist, Bon Secours St. Franics

Right now, Dr. LaPenna says there is no cure.

Treatment for aphasia includes meeting with a speech pathologist for therapy on a regular basis.

To submit a health topic for our ‘Ask the Expert’ series, click here.