Episode 081 -- Neuropsychology with Dr. Karen Sullivan

What is #NeuroPsychology? And what do the fewer than 1,000 board-certified #Neuropsychologist in the US do for #StrokeSurvivors? I talk about that and more with author of the Interactive Stroke Recovery Guide, Dr. Karen Sullivan.

I think Dr. Sullivan and I first connected through Instagram. Her colorful graphics and logos really pop.

Dr. Karen D. Sullivan launched a series of Facebook Live videos aimed at helping stroke and brain injury survivors understand their situation better. From there she went on to write a book, the Interactive Stroke Recovery Guide. She sent me a copy to read before our conversation.

Unlike many stroke books, this is more of a work book. It's meant to be written in. It lets survivors keep track of the details of their strokes, their goals for recovery, their symptoms, etc. It's meant to be cut up, with reminders for motivation and thank you cards to give out. This is no pristine library book.


Dr. Karen Sullivan headshot in front of treesKaren D. Sullivan, PhD, ABPP, is the creator of the I CARE FOR YOUR BRAIN program. She is one of only 24 providers in North Carolina who is Board Certified in Clinical Neuropsychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology. Dr. Sullivan founded a private practice called Pinehurst Neuropsychology Brain & Memory Clinic in November 2013.

Prior to establishing her practice, Dr. Sullivan was an Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department. She received her doctoral degree at Boston University in 2009 and completed her internship and post-doctoral fellowship in Clinical Neuropsychology at the VA Boston Healthcare System through Harvard Medical School and the Boston University School of Medicine in 2010.

Dr. Sullivan has extensive training in clinical issues unique to older adults. Prior to her formal education, she worked as caregiver, nursing assistant, therapeutic companion, activities director and co-director of an adult day health program.

Competition with Strokecast? Nonsense!

If you want to learn more about Dr. Sullivan's fascinating and nontraditional childhood and Bon Jovi connection, listen to episode 65 of the NeuroNerds podcast. You may remember the NeuroNerds from episode 65 of this show when I talked with Joe Borges.

And this brings up another important point -- don't be afraid to tell your story, just because you think everybody has already told there's.

Joe and his cohost Lauren started the NeuroNerds podcast a couple weeks after a I started Strokecast, though we didn't know it at the time.

But we're not competitors -- we're all colleagues and Brain Buddies. Each show is different and brings something different to the community.

The interview that Joe did with Dr. Sullivan is fantastic -- and it's very different than the conversation you just heard between me and Dr. Sullivan. Joe and I have both interviewed Sarah, Tamsen, and Angie -- the Three Stromies -- about their efforts to share stories and bring value to the stroke survivor community. And those conversation are all different.

Christine Lee and Ted Baxter have both written stroke memoirs and been guests on the show. Those books and conversations are all different. And they're different from the books by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor or Allison Shapiro. And they're different from the books and stories you'll hear about in the coming weeks.

If you want to tell your story, don't think there are already too many stroke podcasts, blogs, YouTube channels, or books. None of them have you -- your unique perspective and your unique history. Go out and do it. And if you do, let me know! I want to check it out and share it with the audience.

Hack of the Week

Visualize the things you want to do.

The brain splits up functions into different parts. Even if one part is damaged, the other parts of the chain still work, so don't let them off the hook. If you can't move your arm yet, visualize moving it. Imagine lifting your arm. Close your eyes and imagine your fingers opening and closing. Do this a lot.

What your doing is allowing the working parts of the brain to send data to, through, and around the damaged parts of the brain. This can help new connections grow and help restore function.

One reason our therapists move our limbs, or that we use eStim as part of rehab is to send signals back to the brain about how to move.

If you combine moving the limbs with visualization, it's like building the transcontinental railroad in the US in the 19th century. One team starts in the east and builds west; the other team starts in the west and builds east. Eventually the teams met up and build the connection that transformed the western United States, and celebrated by driving a golden spike into the tracks.

That's where recovery happens.


Dr. Sullivan's ICFYB Website


ICFYB (I Care For Your Brain) on Instagram


Interactive Stroke Recovery Guide on Amazon


ICFYB on Facebook


ICFYB on YouTube


ICFYB on LinkedIn


Dr. Sullivan on Twitter


Dr. Sullivan on LinkedIn


Carrie Frye on LinkedIn


ABPP -- American Board of Professional Psychology


Neuropsychology Overview


Find a Board Certified Neuropsychologist


Whitney Morean on Strokecast


Paul Sanders on Strokecast


Some Facebook Stroke Groups


NeuroNerds Talks with Dr. Sullivan


Joe Borges on Strokecast


Stromies on Strokecast


Stromies on NeuroNerds


Bill on Instagram


Where do we go from here?

  • Check out Dr. Karen Sullivan's Facebook live videos and the Interactive Stroke Recovery Guide, and follow her on Instagram
  • Have you talked with a neuropsychologist as part of your recovery? It might be a good idea to look for one in your area and see if the support is right for you.
  • Share this episode with 3 people you know or on your own social media platform by giving them the link http://Strokecast.com/Karen.
  • Don't get best…get better.



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