Life after Stroke: Keeping Connected in the Community

After Stroke Coordinator, Leanne Johnson.

Stroke is a sudden and life-altering event that may require an extended recovery period. More than 400,000 Canadians are living with the effects of stroke.  Family members and caregivers can also be impacted, often taking on supportive roles in the stroke survivor’s recovery.

Support is essential after stroke. Programs are available throughout Northwestern Ontario to keep people affected by stroke and their caregivers connected and engaged as COVID-19 continues in the community.

March of Dimes Canada’s (MODC) After Stroke program provides support to those impacted by stroke. After Stroke connects stroke survivors and their families with personalized stroke recovery and support services, addressing needs and concerns from the time spent in hospital, through the transition home, and back into the community. In Thunder Bay and surrounding area, MODC has a dedicated, local, After Stroke Coordinator, Leanne Johnson. Johnson’s role is vital throughout the recovery journey, supporting navigation, networking, and referrals.

New with the After Stroke program:

  • Living with Stroke Program – An eight-week program developed for people who have had a stroke and their caregivers. This program will be lead by two trained facilitators to focus on setting individualized goals, sharing experiences, building skills and supporting one another.
  • In-Person Group Sessions – An opportunity to connect with other stroke survivors through small group sessions offered at Thunder Bay’s MODC site. Upcoming groups scheduled for June 9, 2022 and June 23, 2022. Space is limited.
  • Virtual Community Conversation – Every Tuesday 1:00 p.m-2:30 p.m. EST, survivors and caregivers from all over Canada meet, share knowledge and resources.
  • Virtual Aphasia Peer Connect Program – An opportunity for people living with aphasia and other communication disorders to come together, meet new people and stay connected in a peer group setting.
  • Tech for Good Program – Provides professional assistance to support independent use of a mobile phone and tablet.

There are other programs available, including a variety of options for online support programs, information programs, exercise and movement programs, and social programs. Learn more at For more information on After Stroke programs, services, or events, or to register for a program, call Leanne Johnson at (807) 355-5969 or email at

Other programs supporting stroke survivors and their families in Northwestern Ontario are the Moving on After Stroke (MOST) and the Keep Moving with Stroke programs delivered by St. Joseph’s Care Group. MOST is a Self-Management group that provides 18 sessions of exercise and education over nine weeks.  People with stroke who have completed active stroke rehabilitation as well as their caregivers are encouraged to attend. MOST is available in person in Thunder Bay or via telemedicine technology in Northwestern Ontario. Judy Mostow, MOST Volunteer with 16 years lived experience with stroke, enthusiastically endorses the program, I want to encourage stroke survivors to have HOPE.  If you are willing to do the hard work, you can and will see improvements in your abilities to move forward.  Also, be patient and when you stop and look back at where you were when the stroke first occurred compared to now, you’ll see that WOW those baby steps really paid off!”

Keep Moving with Stroke (KMWS) is an exercise program running twice weekly on Tuesday and Thursday morning at the Canada Games Complex in Thunder Bay.  Everyone participating in the class is a stroke survivor and is required to have an assessment prior to participating to ensure safety.  The instructors for the class, Karen Gorst-Vigliarolo and Derek Ortgiese, have been trained to provide exercise instruction to those who are living with stroke and are very dedicated to making the class fun and effective for all. Diane Chase, a long time participant encourages other stroke survivors to join and said “Attending the Keep Moving with Stroke Class motivates me to keep believing I can move forward. Especially this winter it was particularly difficult to motivate myself to get out of the house, and every time I attend the class I feel better.” For more information or to register for these programs, call St. Joseph’s Care group at (807) 343-2431 extension 2537.

For more information on stroke services in Northwestern Ontario, please contact the Northwestern Ontario Regional Stroke Network located at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Center, or (807) 684-6703.