Speculation continues as to what caused Serene Branson, an Emmy-nominated reporter for KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, to suddenly start speaking gibberish as she began a report Sunday from the scene of the Grammy Awards. But People magazine reports that Branson followed up by going to the doctor and receiving some tests, and her station says she feels better and hopes to be back at work soon.
The video, which can be seen here, went viral, as the reporter was initially mocked online. But it soon became apparent that Branson had experienced either a stroke or a related medical condition that impaired her speech.
A New York Times piece quotes Dr. Daniel Labovitz, assistant professor of neurology at Einstein School of Medicine and attending stroke neurologist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, saying, “I very strongly suspect this was a stroke or transient ischemic attack.”
The Times wrote: “[Labovitz] said her speech problem suggests she had a blockage in the part of the brain that involves speech comprehension, but not speech production. Her speech pattern was characteristic of a condition called Wernicke aphasia. ‘The patient is pretty much unaware of the problem they’re having, and they are speaking fluently, with normal musicality of speech, but the words that come out are completely wrong,’ he said. ‘Everything that’s coming out is unintelligible even though it sounds like language.’”
Labovitz added: “I don’t think we saw the stroke start. I think it may have begun before the camera started rolling. She was standing there smiling, completely unaware there was a problem until she attempted to speak, and even then she was not really aware she was making no sense because she kept talking.”
Labovitz also said he was shocked that Branson went home after the incident, and added that anyone who experiences symptoms that suggest a possible stroke should immediately be taken to the hospital. He noted that in such cases the emergency does not end even if it appears as though the symptoms have gone away.
“Even if it wasn’t a stroke, you need to get it checked out,” Labovitz said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for her to talk about what stroke is and what T.I.A. is, and what to do. You don’t go home. This is a 911 scenario. Her risk of stroke for the first few days after an event like that is extremely high.”