Doctor: Grammy reporter suffered migraine, is 'back to normal'
February 17th, 2011
09:12 PM ET

Doctor: Grammy reporter suffered migraine, is 'back to normal'

A migraine - not a stroke - caused a Los Angeles television reporter to mangle her words during a live post-Grammy Awards report on Sunday night, according to the UCLA doctors who examined her in the days after the incident.

KCBS reporter Serene Branson (pictured) suffered a migraine with aura - meaning neurological symptoms that in this case included language problems - causing her to speak gibberish during her report, according to Dr. Andrew Charles, migraine expert and UCLA professor of neurology.

"She’s completely back to normal," Charles said in a telephone interview Thursday, adding that he cleared Branson to return to all activities with no limitation.

Branson's report outside the Staples Center, widely viewed on YouTube early this week before the video was taken down, sparked concerns that she had suffered a stroke.

"A very, very heavy burtation tonight," she said before continuing with incomprehensible words.

Her station said paramedics examined her at the scene but she was not hospitalized, and a colleague gave her a ride home.

Branson was seen early in the week by the chief of neurosurgery at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Dr. Neil Martin, and then Thursday morning by Charles, UCLA spokesman Mark Wheeler said.

A scan ruled out a stroke, eventually leading Martin and Charles to diagnose a migraine, which can present symptoms similar to a stroke, Charles said.

Branson's migraine included a headache and three types of aura - the language troubles plus distorted vision and numbness, Charles said.

"It was quite remarkable that she was actually standing and doing the (report) that she was doing, given what she was experiencing at the time," Charles said. "She was aware of what was happening and was upset about it, but there was no time to back out of what she was doing."

Charles said about 20 to 30 percent of migraine patients experience some type of aura, and those who do most commonly experience visual aura – flashing, wavy lines, or blurry vision.

Such a migraine "can be triggered by different life events, like any migraine – changes in patterns of sleep or diet or exercise or caffeine," Charles said.

Charles stressed that anyone experiencing the symptoms that Branson did should get checked immediately. "The symptoms can be indistinguishable (from that of a stroke) initially, so it's important to emphasize the need to rule that out first," he said.

Branson is expected to address the incident in an interview on KCBS Thursday night.

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Filed under: California • Health • Migraines • TV
soundoff (463 Responses)
  1. Tom

    Completely relate to her experience. Last migraine I had I could not comprehend what people were saying and remember looking at the word "that" and having no idea what it meant or how to pronounce it. I knew it was a migraine because of the aura although the headache wasn't that bad.Fell asleep and couple hours later was better (minus the stabbing pain if I coughed or sneezed) which is also common with migraines. Migraines are not just "a bad headache".

    February 18, 2011 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      I'm lucky in that I only have a classic migraine every few years. Recently however, I've been averaging three to four ocular migraines with aura per year.

      February 18, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  2. JFWilder

    GAAAHHHH!!!!! A picture??? All we get is a lousy picture? I want the video? Stupid CNN...put a story about mangled words, but we don't get to see her mangle them? Come on!!!

    February 18, 2011 at 6:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Ralph

      Do you know how to use the Internet? It's all over Youtube.

      February 18, 2011 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Rosslyn

      Funny you say that. It was actually taken off Youtube because CBS is asserting their copyright privileges. I had the same issue, but search a bit and you'll be able to find it. You can tell that she's having a sudden neurological impairment -she tries desperately to correctly string words together and can't (aphasia). Best wishes to her.

      February 18, 2011 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Ian

      Haha. Internet hard. Veryyy hard. Me no get.

      February 18, 2011 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  3. Susan

    I've experienced similar problems from migraines, though not as severe. It can affect speech, vision, and give a very strange "buzz" (like her numbness, I guess.)

    That said, I'm glad the article included a warning to check out symptoms like that immediately. Both stroke and migraine are affecting the brain, and if there is any doubt at all as to the cause, or if there are new or unusually severe symptoms one should get immediate medical attention. IMHO her friend should have taken her to a hospital, not home.

    February 18, 2011 at 6:58 am | Report abuse |
    • THX

      I've had a few migraines in my time, most of which were accompanied by visual aura. I never heard of others experiencing it before so it's nice to know it's not just me. When I get them, it starts with what I call a "light snake" – a wiggling line of bright white that slow creeps across one eye till I can't see out of it. Only had it happen in both eyes once. The pressure then was enough to make me lay down till it went away.

      February 18, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  4. Ben

    I believe it was a migrain. I have them and after/near its over I cant even spell simple words..there no fun.

    February 18, 2011 at 7:00 am | Report abuse |
    • JFWilder

      Ben...are you having that now? It's "they're no fun", not there no fun. This was likely an epileptic episode...mild...she may have never had it before.

      February 18, 2011 at 7:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Reader

      Don't worry Ben....JF types ignorant comments and he can't blame migranes or any medical condition: stupidity...not a medical condition.....thank goodness most of the folks posting have a sense of compassion instead......

      February 18, 2011 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
  5. JFWilder

    Could it be just be a blonde being nothing more than a blonde?

    February 18, 2011 at 7:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Educated

      JF...Seriously?! I am a masters degree educated professional making over $100K a year-and naturally blond. Just as many dumb brunettes and redheads....oh, I'm sorry...what color is your hair? Since you have so much time to post repeatedly, you obviously must have been laid off from your gas-station position or fry cook responsibilities. Either spend your time using your "typing skills" to find a job or spend it making a creative sign to use while you stand on a street corner begging for spare change.

      February 18, 2011 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Professor UF

      No, its more like you being an inconsiderate *** again. You must have a sad, boring life. I'd hate to be you 😦

      February 18, 2011 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
    • ecibu33

      Ouch, JFwilder.. educated has given you quite a punch... Ouch

      February 18, 2011 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
  6. Josh

    "aura" is one of those bull-caca words that really means nothing.

    But I think it's quite likely that she was so distracted from the pain that it caused her to jumble her words because she couldn't concentrate or focus. You can call that aura if you want.

    February 18, 2011 at 7:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Things and Stuff.

      You don't know what you're talking about.

      February 18, 2011 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Candice

      Please, your ignorance is showing. It's only bull-caca because you don't understand it. For the rest of us, "aura" has meaning and it is appropriately used. You might find your time better spent learning about concepts presented, rather than commenting and showing the world you are not the brightest bulb in the box.

      February 18, 2011 at 7:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Ann

      Auras are absolutely real... and if you ever had one you would know that it is completely seperate from the pain. As a matter of fact there is an ocular migraine that is all the symptoms of the migraine including auras but do not present with the "headache".

      February 18, 2011 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
    • adam

      Good lord, are you an as*

      February 18, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  7. FedUpnMT

    I have suffered from migraines for over 45 years and I can guarantee you that this is what happened to this poor woman at a most inoppertune time! These "headaches" are debilitating in their level of pain and all the little "extras" that come along with it...auras, flashing lights/spots, blurred vision, disruptive speach patterns, etc. Anyone who thinks differently has never suffered from a migraine!

    February 18, 2011 at 7:07 am | Report abuse |
  8. John

    I've had similar experiences often enough that I find them more annoying than scary by now. My only worry is that if I ever do have a stroke I'll think it's migraine.

    February 18, 2011 at 7:09 am | Report abuse |
  9. Rpokeytruck

    I have those without the pain, scared the heck out of me for yrs. Being a truck driver and having part of your vision wiped out with shimmery rainbows doesnt do. Took 10 yrs to find a neuro guy that knew what they were. Very rare type of migrain, all the symtoms but no pain. My speech slurred once I thought I was having a stroke. I still have them, sometime 2-3 a day sometimes weeks apart. No Idea why. Very scary when your brain goes south for no appernt reason.

    February 18, 2011 at 7:11 am | Report abuse |
  10. Justin Observation

    A glitch in the matrix?

    February 18, 2011 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Pazke

      Thank you for one of the few clever comments in a sea of ignorance. I'm sorry for this poor woman for feeling she could not back out of the broadcast knowing her condition and I'm glad it wasn't a stroke. That said, you're comment was hilarious.

      February 18, 2011 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
    • woodie

      She does remind me of the Lady in Red. Perhaps she needs to be scanned for viruses.

      February 18, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jonnyola

    The article misspelled something. It's not "migraine", they meant to say "cocaine".

    February 18, 2011 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
  12. SkepticalOfMost

    I find it interesting that everyone who is posting "I have that type of migrane too" did not post that on any of the comments for earlier reports of this. In fact, I did not read a single suggestion of migrane on the comments of any report of this before there was this migrane report.

    February 18, 2011 at 7:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Crazybrain

      I can tell you that I did think this as soon as I saw the clip, but I usually have more important things to do than leave comments, and I am not a doctor. I defend the suffers on here and I understand the skeptics find it hard to believe. I get mine every time I am pregnant like clock work. I always get a rainbow colored aura which I can only describe as looking like a kelidascope that starts in one eye, gets bigger until it is in both then it disappears. Then I am left with a horrible headache. I only had the trouble speaking with my first child, it is scary. You know what you want to say but can't make you mouth say it. The brain is fascinating.

      February 18, 2011 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  13. Darron R. Brown, M.D.

    Migraines manifested as altered and garbled speech are not rare, and are frightening to those who experience them. People often have a bright, small spot in the visual field before the speech problem begins, and may or may not have a headache. It lasts about an hour.

    February 18, 2011 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
  14. MigraineSufferer

    I have these quite often – the first signs are my peripheral vision going blurry, then numbness on one side of my body usually starting in my fingers and then up to my arm. I've had half of my face/tongue/mouth totally numb. My vision ends up going away almost completely and then the confusion and disorientation sets in.. sometimes these events occur with a headache, sometimes without. And, they almost always last at least 24 hours. I feel for this lady, as this is probably the first of many and unfortunately medications do not counter these side effects although they can help the pain.

    February 18, 2011 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
  15. planetx

    I think we need to wake up This is what we truth seekers have been warning sheeples about This woman is a Reptilian and what you saw and heard was the sound of the digital voice translation being broken down Probably the CME's coming from our sun lately broke it down temporarily Sounded to me like some weird language from another dimension

    February 18, 2011 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
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