Chatham Host to First In Ontario Stoke Survivor Congress

Chatham-Kent: June 12, 2015 -- Today, attendees of Ontario's first Stroke Survivor Congress, received the gifts of inspiration, insight and information to improve the journey for current and future stroke survivors. Powerful topics for stroke survivors, accentuated by an incredible caliber of talented international, provincial and local speakers who were willing to share their expertise, were greeted by an enthusiastic crowd of over 150 people. By all accounts the day was a resounding success.


Emcee Peter Martin portrays Doc Brown and takes the audience "Back to the Future" in the opening ceremony of the 1st Stroke Survivor Congress

"At CKHA, we seek to create new and enhanced opportunities to share knowledge with our patients, partners and larger health system. Today's event -- a first ever in Ontario, exemplifies this in practice. I'm so proud of our committee's use of a fun and engaging theme to provide meaningful information to improve the experiences of stroke survivors, families and their caregivers," said Nancy Snobelen, Director of Partnerships and System Integration, CKHA.

Building on the legacy of the Stroke Garden Party, Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) refreshed its approach to celebrating life after stroke. By inviting other organizations to become partners, a first of its kind congress for stroke survivors was realized. The event, hosted by CKHA in partnership with New Beginnings, Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) and Stroke Recovery Association, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation, recognizes that surviving a stroke is a significant life changing event. It requires enormous hope, bravery, strength, determination, help from others and celebration.

"New Beginnings is very pleased to be teaming up with Chatham-Kent Health Alliance and the Heart and Stroke Association to present a quality program in the 1st Stroke Survivor Congress," reflected Bob Rawlinson, Executive Director, New Beginnings, ABI and Stroke Recovery Association. "There are always new and developing strategies to help people recover from stroke and our speakers for the day are pleased to present them in Chatham-Kent. Stroke prevention is our future."

The theme, Back to the Future: Finding your way, was shaped by stroke survivors, their families and caregivers, for stroke survivors, families and caregivers to help them find their way on their post-stroke road of recovery. The focus on 'finding your way' was highlighted as participants attended more than one breakout session. Those present described the experience as informative, intriguing and uplifting.

"Stroke is the third leading cause of death in Canada, and a leading cause of disability," commented Denise Smith, Health Promotion Specialist at the Heart and Stroke Foundation. "We know that participation in a rehabilitation program or support group improves recovery and outcomes and we need to work together to continue to improve access to care for all Ontarians. For this reason, we are thrilled to be hosting the first ever survivor focused Stroke Collaborative in South Western Ontario."

The day also featured entertaining commentary by Guest Emcee, Peter "Doc Brown" Martin, from TVCogeco, a musical serenade by Crystal Gage, a real-life survivor story by Derek Beselaere, door prizes and vendor displays.

The event was made possible through the support of the Foundation of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance Frank and late Mary Uniac fund, an anonymous donor, the three partner organizations, TVCogeco, local vendors and all the volunteers. Through their generous support, the event was no charge and survivors literally came by the bus load. 

 "To truly celebrate and support the number of stroke survivors, it takes partnerships to live the message of celebration, hope and caring on an ongoing basis. We are fortunate to have exceptional services for stroke survivors in Chatham-Kent. We are truly a stroke-friendly community," concluded Snobelen. 

Local stroke survivor services, all of which are achieving excellent results, include: the District Stroke Centre, daily Secondary Prevention Clinics, acute stroke management including thrombolysis "clot-busting" treatment, an Integrated Stroke Unit, Inpatient Rehabilitation, Outpatient Transitional Stroke Program, Friends of Stroke Recovery, and Stroke Social Programs.

Media Contact: 

Emily Field, Communications Jr. Officer

Chatham-Kent Health Alliance

519.352.6401 x 5326

efield [at] ckha [dot] on [dot] ca 





The plenary speaker, Dr. David Alter, a Cardiologist, a Heart and Stroke researcher, a senior scientist at ICES with affiliation to the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, captivated the attendees by presenting his work regarding music and neural entrainment to motivate patients to follow their prescribed medication, nutrition and exercise prescriptions. Dr. Alter informed the audience that the patient who quits his medications or therapy faces almost the same health outcomes as the one who receives no intervention at all.


Dr. Sara Palmer, a Rehabilitation Psychologist and assistant professor from John Hopkins University Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Baltimore, Maryland facilitated discussions about the effects of stroke on the emotions, behavior and family relationships for the stroke survivor and the family as a whole. According to Dr. Palmer, stroke survivors can face issues with self-image, role changes, depression, communication, stress, intimacy and sexuality - subjects that aren't always easy to manage. Dr. Palmer also delivered a presentation to the clinical staff at CKHA for Medical Grand Rounds earlier this morning.


Dr. Ricardo Viana, a Physiatrist and Ms. Heather Beecroft-Rock, a Social Worker, Parkwood Institute, London, described the impact of living with a stroke that hits younger (less than 50 years of age) people, an occurrence with increasing rates in the past few years. This team skillfully described the impact on function, health, productivity, return to work and the importance of preventing a future stroke.


Ms. Jenny Iszakovits, Occupational Therapist and Driving Rehabilitation specialist with the Driver Assessment and Rehabilitation Program, Parkwood Institute detailed information about one of the most frequently asked questions of the rehabilitative care team - driving after stroke.


Leqin Lu, a Social Worker and Health Promotion specialist with the Heart and Stroke Foundation discussed future needs of stroke survivors that will inform the Foundation's Support Recovery Strategy and guide further research.

To see the full program and speaker biographies, visit:

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