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Unlocking the mystery of aphasia

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Bruce Willis
Charles Sykes/Charles Sykes/Invision/AP
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FILE - Bruce Willis attends a movie premiere in New York on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. A brain disorder that leads to problems with speaking, reading and writing has sidelined Willis and drawn attention to aphasia, a little-known condition that has many possible causes. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)



The recent announced retirement of actor Bruce Willis due to complications with aphasia has brought the condition national attention.

Aphasia is an acquired language disorder usually resulting from a stroke or trauma in the brain’s dominant hemisphere. The condition causes a disconnect in the areas of the brain responsible for language and can impact a person’s ability to speak, read, write, and listen (ranging from very mild to
severe.)

There is no cure for aphasia and most patients struggle with lifelong side effects.

This week on Dr. Greg Davis on Medicine we talk all things aphasia with Tim Ainger, clinical neuropsychologist and an assistant professor of
neurology with the UK College of Medicine and the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute.

Dr.Timothy Ainger is a clinical neuropsychologist and an assistant professor of neurology with the UK College of Medicine and the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute.  He earned his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, and did his clinical internship at the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical and Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center in Richmond, Virginia, focusing on neuropsychological assessment and cognitive rehabilitation in veterans with multiple traumas and traumatic brain injuries.  He completed his postdoctoral fellowship training in clinical neuropsychology with Cornerstone Neuropsychology (an affiliate of Wake Forest Baptist Health) in High Point, North Carolina.  He has also been previously employed by the US Department of Justice. 

He has clinical experience in neurocognitive evaluation of individuals with diagnoses including epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, neurodegenerative diseases, traumatic brain injuries, brain tumors, cerebrovascular disease, and myriad other health conditions.  He participates on several multidisciplinary teams, and additional areas of clinical expertise include pre-surgical evaluations for both epilepsy care and organ transplant.  In addition to his clinical work, his research foci include epilepsy, primary and secondary changes in executive functioning, forensic neuropsychology, burnout and wellness, neurodegenerative disease, and the intersection of multiculturalism and healthcare.