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Nurse learned to heal her brain

By April 14, 2022No Comments
Kristen Traverse is a registered nurse who recovered from a life-changing stroke seven years ago that left her unable to speak. Today she helps others recover and develop better brain function with Hunt Psychological Services. Geoff Lee Meridian Source

 

It seems like a medical miracle for Kristen Traverse to be able to talk about her recovery from a devastating brain stroke just over seven years ago that robbed her of the ability to speak.

Today, the registered nurse works at Hunt Psychological Services, teaching and working with others to expand the brain’s capacity to learn.

“I want people to know that life can get better,” said Traverse.

“Even though there are so many challenges, and it seems overwhelming and difficult at times, with the right support and the right conditions, life can be beautiful and exciting and joyous, too.” 

She was introduced during a Zoom presentation to the Rotary Club of Lloydminster’s Monday lunch as an Anat Baniel Method NeuroMovement practitioner.

“If you have a brain injury we have to adapt. We bring in these essentials with neuroplasticity with movements to connect with the brain. The brain has to figure out a different way of doing these,” said Traverse.

Unfortunately, that therapy wasn’t offered to her following her stroke, but it works.

The Anat Baniel Method is a proven therapy that wakes up the brain to create new connections and new patterns that dramatically improve physical, cognitive, and emotional performance.

“When we connect with the brain and use gentle subtle movements, that brain kind of wakes up and learns how to learn again,” explained Traverse.

She told Rotary her stroke came on suddenly while she was driving to work at the Lloydminster Hospital in 2015 and was misdiagnosed with a migraine since her only symptom was the loss of speech.

She was later diagnosed with a cryptogenic ischemic stroke of unknown origin that left her with what’s called Broca’s Aphasia and apraxia.

Aphasia leaves a person unable to communicate effectively with others and apraxia impairs one’s ability to perform familiar movements on command.

“I couldn’t make sentences,” she said.

The misdiagnosis robbed her of a drug treatment that would restore her speech and led to a progression of residual health effects over the years. 

“I’ve had seizures and heart surgery and septic shock in 2018,” said Traverse.

She also has an autoimmune disease and spoke from home where she is recovering from her second bout with COVID-19.

“I’m so grateful every day for everyone around me,” she said. “I had a husband who dropped everything and helped me do everything.”

Traverse advises other stroke victims they don’t have to accept limitations. 

“There’s possibilities beyond their circumstances,” she said.

The mother of two young children refused to accept her own prognosis that she would only be functional with a reduced quality of life.

“We did lots of speech therapy. I had an amazing speech pathologist, but then I got to a point where I was still functioning and doing great, but that was all they could give me,” she said.

“I started taking courses. I started doing things like Google songs—anything to do with language, trying to think out of the box to make myself recover.”

She also became a certified respiratory educator and stayed on the learning treadmill.

“I was always questioning my intelligence. I wanted to be smarter, to know more, I wanted to provide the best for my patients,” said Traverse.

She went back to work in 2017, then the possibility of applying the Anat method presented itself.

Traverse is currently on contract with the Lloydminster Catholic School Division as an Anat Baniel classroom consultant.

“I teach EAs and teachers about neuroplasticity and how brains work and how we can make kids learn to be better learners,” she said.

Traverse also works privately, seeing individuals and working with larger groups and non-profit groups.  

“At Hunt, we’ve partnered with Residents in Recovery, so I’ve done a pilot project with them,” she said.

Traverse has also done a pilot project with IHD goalies as high-performance athletes, using the Anat method.

“If you have a brain, this method can work for you. I also try to focus on kids with neuro diversities and people with strokes and brain injuries,” she said.

Traverse wants readers to know the signs of a stroke include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body, confusion, trouble speaking and sudden severe headaches.

Other symptoms are sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes, trouble walking, dizziness, and loss of balance or coordination.

“Know the signs of a stroke and dial 911,” she said.