SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — He’s known for movies like Die Hard, and this week Bruce Willis’ family shared his diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia or FTD.

Dr. Allison Reiss, an internal medicine physician and member of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s Medical, Scientific and Memory Screening Advisory Board, said it causes brain cells to die.

“You get a loss of brain cells in specific areas of the brain that cause very dramatic symptoms,” said Dr. Reiss. “The areas of the brain where the cells die are the frontal lobes right here behind the forehead and the temporal lobes which are behind the ears which are on each side of the head.”

Reiss said it can cause drastic personality changes, create a problem with words and make it difficult to speak.

“When someone is more and more unable to name common things. Like I said a spoon, a fork. Something that would be easy. If they can’t express their thoughts or they seem to not what you’re saying to them,” Reiss explained.

It has a big impact on a person’s quality of life.

“It ends up in the path of losing pretty much your whole self, kind of like with Alzheimer’s,” she said.

Age is a big difference between the two. Alzheimer’s is usually in older people while FTD can be diagnosed in those who are between 40 and 60 years old. Willis is 67.

There isn’t a cure or treatment. Reiss said they can do physical and speech therapy.

“The best that we can do is keep the person active, engaged, build memories with them. I think that’s what the Willis Family’s doing,” Reiss said.

In a statement, the Willis Family writing, “We know in our hearts that — if he could today — he would want to respond by bringing global attention and a connectedness with those who are also dealing with this debilitating disease and how it impacts so many individuals and their families.”

“He’s going to make a good change out of a tragedy,” Reiss said of the actor and his family’s transparency.

She hopes that comes through more funding and research to help more patients.

You can learn more about the disease by visiting the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration’s website.