Dr. Jason Muir, of Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township, poses with Juanita Branch, 63, of Fraser. Branch recognized signs of a stroke she was having from photos of herself she had just taken.

Dr. Jason Muir, of Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township, poses with Juanita Branch, 63, of Fraser. Branch recognized signs of a stroke she was having from photos of herself she had just taken.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Fraser woman spots stroke signs in her own photographs

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published September 10, 2018

 Branch’s photos led to quick recognition and treatment for her stroke.

Branch’s photos led to quick recognition and treatment for her stroke.

Photo by Deb Jacques

CLINTON TOWNSHIP/FRASER — They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in the case of Juanita Branch, some selfies saved her life.

Aug. 13 was an average day for Branch, 63, who lives in Fraser Woods Senior Apartments on 13 Mile Road, just east of Utica Road.

“I was taking a selfie for my Facebook page, and I took about eight of ’em, and I was, like, checking them out to see which one would be the best one,” Branch said Sept. 5. “And I kept going, ‘Wait a minute. What’s going on? This one doesn’t look right. This one looks worse.’”

Branch walked toward a mirror.

“I said, ‘What is that? I think I’m having a stroke. My face doesn’t look right,’” she said. “And I said, ‘I think I have to go to the hospital.’”

She joked that she was worried about what she would wear in the ambulance she was about to summon. In her room, she has a call button to alert employees and management.

In disarray, she thought she used the button but never did. She activated it and management arrived. She was sitting in a chair, and she greeted them as if she “was serving tea or something.”

“By this time, the unbalance and all of that’s kicked in,” she said. “I’m holding on to everything before I fall out.”

Branch, who had a miniature stroke in June 2016, said this situation was worse. She was aware of the symptoms, of which medical professionals discuss the warning signs using the acronym “FAST”: checking the face for dropping or contortions; raising the arms; listening for slurred speech; and making the time to call for immediate help to provide better outcomes.

Dr. Jason Muir, of Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township, said he got the alert from EMS that a woman was being brought in with a possible stroke. He was told that the woman self-evaluated her issue using phone selfies.

Timestamps on the photos showed progression of a stroke, and when he met Branch, she had already developed a facial droop and slurred speech.

“This is the first time I’ve ever seen something like this,” Muir said, adding that stroke victims are often identified by friends or family members due to facial recognitions.

Due to Branch’s attentiveness to her symptoms, she was provided with medication called tissue plasminogen activator. It ideally is given through an IV within three hours of the stroke’s development, with the window sometimes being pushed to four hours.

The medication has been around for about a decade or so, Muir said, and its use has increased as stroke awareness has become more prevalent. It releases blood clots that cause the actual stroke.

He said Sept. 5 that Branch’s neurologic deficits seemed to be “completely resolved.”

Branch — who joked that she never took selfies and made fun of others who did — said the situation was one of chance. She said that if she wasn’t aware of stroke-based symptoms and didn’t take the photos, then “Who knows?”

“I’m feeling like myself,” she said.