Bruce Willis diagnosis sparks a reminder that exercise is medicine

Thursday 31 March 2022

Dominating the news today is the headline of Bruce Willis’ diagnosis of aphasia and Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA) would like to draw on this announcement to remind people that exercise is an excellent support for those living with the condition.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Aphasia is a condition that robs you of the ability to communicate. Aphasia typically occurs suddenly after a stroke or a head injury, but it can also come on gradually from a slow-growing brain tumour or a disease that causes progressive, permanent damage (degenerative). The severity of aphasia depends on a number of conditions, including the cause and the extent of the brain damage.

There is very little research in the exact benefits of exercise for this disorder, however accredited exercise physiologists (AEPs) throughout Australia are seeing positive case studies of where movement is making a key difference in the progress of recovery and quality of life for those diagnosed with aphasia.

“Working in a hospital, I see a lot of patients with the condition. I work with a range of people recovering from mild, to moderate, to severe aphasia in the outpatient setting,” says AEP Gabrielle Tindall.

“Despite the lack of research, I see huge improvements in mental health and physical function in many of my patients. I find they all respond positively to exercise as it gives them an outlet and improves their well-being.”

Bryannah Downward, an AEP from The Movement Therapy Group, also supports the power exercise can have, “Exercise Physiology sessions have definitely helped my clients with aphasia. Exercise is often used as part of general stroke rehabilitation.”

“Having regular appointments in a supportive environment where patients are encouraged to communicate, primarily through speech, as opposed to spending days quietly at home alone, is making a real difference.”

If you are interested in speaking to an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, please visit

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