True Resilience: How a Paralympian Wins With Migraine

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Key Questions
  • What inspired Allysa to start competing in triathlons?
  • At what point did she start experiencing migraine symptoms?
  • How often does she experience migraine?
  • How did she recover from chronic migraine?
  • How does she manage her other diagnoses of Chiari II malformation, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and basilar invagination?
  • Which of these conditions was the most significant for her?
  • How did these conditions affect her ability to compete?
  • When her doctors gave her the choice at a young age — to either live a sedentary lifestyle or live an active lifestyle with significant sacrifices — how did she make that choice?
  • What did she sacrifice?
  • What or who helped her make the best decisions for your health?
  • How did she build her resilience?
  • What is a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset and why might this be important for someone with a chronic condition?
  • What were the multiple angles she attacked chronic migraine from?
  • How important were lifestyle changes in breaking chronic migraine?
  • What time does she go to bed each night?
  • What is the hardest thing about exercising with multiple chronic conditions?
  • How can people who want to get started with exercise begin?
Interview Notes
Treatments Mentioned
  • Essential oils
  • Exercise
  • Sleep

Please note: The Migraine World Summit’s aim is to bring you a variety of perspectives and expertise, independent of bias or judgment. Alternative theories presented in this video have not been medically reviewed. Views expressed in this interview do not necessarily represent the views of the Migraine World Summit. Please always consult your health care professional and do your own research before making changes to your treatment plan.

Allysa Seely

Paratriathlete & Paralympic Gold Medalist
Team USA

Allysa Seely is known for her competitiveness, determination, and breaking-barriers mindset. In 2016 she won two paratriathlete gold medals in Rio and was the Paratriathlete World Champion in 2015. She was diagnosed with Chiari II malformation, basilar invagination, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome in 2010, which led to her lower leg being amputated in 2013. She suffers from muscle weakness and imbalance, chronic pain, and other medical issues but has the most amazing spirit you’ll ever meet.

After her diagnosis, Allysa was told she would be lucky if she ever walked unaided again. But being strong-willed and motivated, she wasn’t ready to give up on her passion for running and competing. To Allysa, rare diseases are no handicap. Currently, she trains seven days a week, two to three times a day; lifts weight in the gym three days a week; swims once a day; and bikes and runs four to five days a week.

Allysa was featured in ESPN The Magazine’s 2016 “The Body Issue,” in which athletes are featured nude, exposed, and unrestricted. In 2019, she won an ESPY Award for the Best Female Athlete with a Disability. She has a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies (psychology and exercise and wellness) from Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. She also has a bachelor of science in biology (genetics, cell and developmental biology) from the same university, and in 2009 spent time abroad studying human and medical genetics at the University of Leeds in England.

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The American Migraine Foundation (AMF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of research and awareness surrounding migraine, a disabling condition that impacts more than 37 million men, women and children in the United States. The AMF was founded in 2010 to provide global access to information and resources for individuals with migraine as well as their family and friends.

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