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On the evening of the 2011 Grammy Awards, national concern swelled for Los Angeles television reporter Serene Branson when she slurred her words during the live broadcast. Many medical experts thought her slurred language was the result of a stroke on air.
However, Dr. Neil Martin, the chief of neurosurgery at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, explained how Branson actually suffered from a "complex or complicated migraine."
Martin explained how this type of migraine can mimic certain symptoms of a stroke such as slurred speech, weakness and loss of vision. However, unlike with strokes, the effects of complex migraines are not long term.
In an interview on "The Early Show," Branson stated she was scared and confused. "I knew something wasn't right as soon as I opened my mouth," Branson said. "I wanted to say, 'Lady Antebellum swept the Grammys.' And I could think of the words but I could not get them coming out properly."
The National Headache Foundation stated the term complicated migraine is no longer used. However, the term refers to prolonged migraine aura symptoms.
The Los Angeles Times stated that migraine aura typically includes three categories of symptoms. These categories include visual, language and sensory.
Classic visual symptoms of aura are having blurred or distorted vision. Sometimes patients see sparkling lights and zigzag lines in their field of vision. Dysphasic language dysfunction or language dysfunction can also occur. The sensory symptoms of migraine aura include numbness and tingling in the face and hands.
Other symptoms of migraine aura include:
• Numbness on one side of the body
• Patients may lose consciousness and even pass out
• Loss of vision
• Difficulty uttering words
• Limbs become heavy
• Hands and feet become cold
• Nose becomes congested
• Dull aching pain in one particular part or both sides of the head
• Family history of migraines
According to the Migraine Research Foundation, more than 27 million women are affected by migraines. But in the U.S., more than 23 million people suffer from migraine aura conditions.