Bruce Willis frontotemporal dementia diagnosis: U-M neurologists can comment on FTD

February 17, 2023
Written By:
Noah Fromson, 216-509-8604,


The family of Bruce Willis has announced that the celebrated actor has frontotemporal dementia, or FTD. Last year, he was diagnosed with aphasia, which can be an early sign of FTD.

In wake of the new diagnosis, neurologists from University of Michigan Health, Michigan Medicine, are able to speak about FTD, which is most commonly diagnosed in people over the age of 40.

Sami Barmada is the Angela Dobson Welch and Lyndon Welch Research Professor of Neurology. His work centers on the overlap between FTD and a related degenerative condition, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. His work combines basic biology with translational research and technology development to identify new and effective treatments for both ALS and FTD.

Judith Heidebrink is the clinical core co-lead of the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center and the Richard D. and Katherine M. O’Connor Research Professor of Neurology. She has been involved in collaborative clinical trials in dementia for more than 20 years, including studies focusing on the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s dementia.

Henry Paulson is director of the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center and the Lucile Groff Professor of Neurology. His research and clinical interests concern the causes and treatment of age-related neurodegenerative diseases, with an emphasis on polyglutamine diseases, Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia. His lab also helped pioneer the use of gene silencing methods as potential therapy for the many neurological disorders caused by “toxic” mutant genes.