Every Stroke Recovery Journey Is Unique

The recently published 2017 Stroke Report1 “Different Strokes: Recovery triumphs and challenges at any age” is available online from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and highlights the uniqueness of every stroke and every stroke recovery journey. The report states that there are more than 400,000 people in Canada living with long term disability after stroke and this number is expected to almost double in the next 20 years.  Strokes can happen at any age, with more than 10,000 Canadian children (0-18 years) living with stroke.  Strokes are rising in younger adults (20-59 years) at a rate faster than those over 60 years of age.

Stroke rehabilitation is a vital part of the recovery journey and earlier access is associated with better outcomes2.  Progressive, dynamic, goal orientated therapy helps people with disability after stroke to reach their optimal physical, cognitive, emotional, communicative, and social recovery.3 

 In Northwestern Ontario, approximately 40% of hospitalized stroke survivors are admitted to a rehabilitation unit 8 days after their stroke4 to receive the therapy required to continue recovery.  When hospitalization is not necessary, some stroke survivors will access further rehabilitation at home or in community-based facilities, such as out-patient clinics. However, rehabilitation services are often time-limited, while recovery is a long-term process that requires ongoing support from family, friends, health care providers and the community.

The 2017 Stroke Report1 identifies “extensive gaps in recovery support and services for Canadians who experience stroke at any age”, particularly outside of major centers with barriers existing around awareness, access and cost. The opportunity to use telemedicine technology was identified as one way to increase access to stroke recovery services across the country. In Northwestern Ontario, extensive use of the Ontario Telemedicine Network is made to increase access to programs through the use of videoconferencing technology, for example Stroke Prevention Clinic appointments, the Moving On After Stroke (MOST) self-management program and the Regional Speech Program for speech and language therapy.

Peer support for people living with stroke and their families is available through the Thunder Bay Stroke Recovery Canada Chapter hosted by the March of Dimes (Contact-Todd Kennedy: 807-345-6595 ext 105). Heart & Stroke also provides many online resources for patients and caregivers to support recovery in adult, young adult and child stroke survivors available at http://www.heartandstroke.ca/what-we-do/publications

For more information on Stroke Recovery in Northwestern Ontario, visit the Northwestern Ontario Regional Stroke Network website at www.nwostroke.ca and check out the following sections: Patients and Caregivers, Rehabilitation and Community & Long Term Care or contact Esmé French, Regional Stroke Rehabilitation Specialist at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre at 807-684-6498 or frenche@tbh.net.


  1. Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. 2017 Stroke Report. Different Strokes: Recovery triumphs and challenges at any age.

Available at: http://www.heartandstroke.ca/-/media/pdf-files/canada/stroke-report/hsf-stroke-report-2017-en.ashx

  1. Evidence-Based Review of Stroke Rehabilitation (2016). Available at http://www.ebrsr.com/sites/default/files/Chapter%203_Background%20Concepts%20in%20Stroke%20Rehabilitation.pdf
  2. Heart and Stroke Foundation. Canadian Stroke Best Practice Recommendations (2015). Available at http://www.strokebestpractices.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Stroke-Rehabilitation-Definition-and-Considerations.pdf
  3. Hall RE, Khan F, Levi J, Huiting M, Fang J, Martin C, Morrison K, Fearn J, Brown G, Kelloway L, Kapral MK, O’Callaghan C, Bayley M, Linkewich B. Ontario and LHIN 2015/16 Stroke Report Cards and Progress Reports: Setting the Bar Higher. Toronto, ON: Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences; 2017. Available at: ices.on.ca
Publishing this article in no way serves as an endorsement from NWO Regional Stroke Network. The NWO Regional Stroke Network does not verify the veracity of information in this item and any views expressed are of the author(s) alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of NWO Regional Stroke Network​