Our Stories

Strokefocus, also known as Wohaula, is a platform designed and run by stroke survivors and caregivers. Strokefocus' mission is to help stroke the stroke and TBI community to pool resources and share insights. In particular, we believe it is essential to empower local support groups. Great improvements in stroke and TBI care can only be achieved when local groups get the tools to thrive.

Wohaula means "I have survived", in Mandarin Chinese. The team spent years to design and build this social media network through close collaboration with local support groups. In the process, we have been inspired by the the strength of heart of so many in the stroke recovery community.  

 Founders

 

Hong Ru, owner and founder of Wohaula LLC (aka Strokefocus) 

"When my husband suffered a major stroke 3 months before turning 41, I looked everywhere for information to help us find a path to wellness until I finally I found the work of Alison Bonds Shapiro who has been teaching recovery skills to stroke survivors and their loved ones since 2005. 
 
Inspired by the work of Alison and other stroke survivors who are working to improve stroke care via peer to peer coaching, I began Wohaula, which means I have survived."
 

Wohaula's mission is to allow survivors, families, caregivers, healthcare professionals and voluteers to easily exchange quality information. Together, we will overcome the challenges!

To make the name easier for survivors and caregivers to remember, in April 2017, we changed the name of our site from Wohaula to Strokefocus.

 

Hong and her husband Daniel Gu and 2 kids. The picture was taken right before Christmas 2011. In Sept 2012, Daniel suffered a brain stem stroke which totally disrupted his career and family life. 

 

Alison Bonds Shapiro, M.B.A.

Alison works with rehabilitation patients, rehabilitation service providers and caregivers.  Surviving and thriving after having experienced two devastating brain stem strokes herself, she is a stroke recovery and mindfulness teacher.  

She has taught and coached thousands of stroke survivors, their loved ones and care-providers. In 2009 she co-produced the DVD What Now? Sharing Brain Recovery Lessons. This video is used across the world to help survivors and family members reframe their ideas of recovery, build hope and begin to understand what may be possible for them.  

Alison’s published art and illustration includes: Just for Today, The Adventures of Tigy and Elly, and the phoenix image for Mind Matters Research.  Her published writing includes the book Healing into Possibility: The Transformational Lessons of a Stroke, and various articles and blogs. Find more information about Alison's work at: Healing Into Possibility.

 

 Rita Martin, LAC

Rita is a licensed acupuncturist and a Certified Acutonics Practitioner. Acutonics is a form of treatment based on the principles of acupuncture that uses sound rather than needles to stimulate acupuncture points. It is non-invasive, not painful and superbly effective.

Rita is also a stroke survivor. In 1996 on a trip to Tibet, Rita suffered two strokes within the same afternoon. The strokes resulted in very serious injuries to her brain and, unable to speak or move her right side, she was given a bleak prognosis. But those who gave her that prognosis did not know Rita. Born out of her deep understanding of healing, Rita’s capacity to persist in the face of great difficulty and heal and reclaim her life is more than remarkable. Western medical practitioners shake their heads in wonder at what she has done and continues to do.

Rita did not speak a word for a year and half after her injury. Today Rita is a superb teacher as well as a healer. Her sense of fun and adventure lifts hearts. Her ever-growing knowledge of integrative medicine includes not only Acutonics, but also massage, oriental movement practices like Qi Gong, herbal medicine, and diet. Through her skills and training she provides those who are injured or ill with many ways to help themselves. 

 

Panel of Advisors

Kelly Campbell

Kelly Campbell, MS, is a stroke survivor and educator.

She is on the board of directors for the Brain Injury Association of Georgia (BIAG), is a BIAG support group leader, is a Support Group Steering Committee member and the current committee chair.

Kelly currently leads Unlimited Possibilities Support Group, one of the largest stroke, aneurysm and TBI support groups in Georgia. In addition, Kelly is a former elected official as well as a three-term legislative assistant in both the Georgia House and Senate.

Unlimited Possibilities is one the largest and most energetic support groups on the East Coast. A strong leader with her hearts and minds devoted to the stroke and TBI community, Kelly plays a very big role in helping local hospitals re-engineer the process to improve stroke and TBI care. 

 

Deborah Chiaravalloti

Deborah Chiaravalloti is an experienced healthcare marketing professional and the former Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing at a mid-size community hospital in New England.

She was part of the hospital turnaround team that stemmed $5M annual losses in 12 months, and crafted a marketing program that received the Best In New England award from among 350 hospitals.  

Deborah is a professional healthcare writer and strategic consultant who works with healthcare clients in the US and internationally in the UK, Australia and the MENA region.

She is ranked in the Top Ten Percent of 2 million freelancers on the UpWork platform, has a Pro Writer and Top Ranked designation and 100 percentile client satisfaction ranking. She writes keynotes speeches, strategizes reputation management campaigns and writes blogs, websites, sales and marketing materials and electronic campaigns for advocacy groups, large physician practices, hospitals, service and elder care providers, software and technology innovations and physician practice management.

 

Bill Hrncir

Bill Hrncir has been married for 36 years to Deedee and has two wonderful children, and a brand new grandbaby.  He owns and manages businesses in Laredo.  He has always been into physical fitness.

 

His stroke recovery has taken perseverance and dedication.  After his stroke, he attended Laredo Medical Center for speech, physical, and occupational therapy.  He later found several resources in Austin to aid in his recovery like St. David’s Hospital, Texas Neuro Rehab,  Center, and Austin Speech Labs.

 

Upon returning to Laredo, Bill began occupational and physical therapy at Ruthe B. Cowl Rehabilitation Center, all the while continuing his weight bearing and rigorous running regiment with his personal trainers.

 

In September of 2012 he co-founded Laredo Stroke Support Group. They bring in informative speakers, share healthy snacks & practice exercise tips. They also provide art, music, gardening, tennis & yoga classes, as well as trike & bike riding.

 

They have joined forces with Austin Speech Labs, through Skype, and provide therapy in Laredo at the UT Health Science Center. Now Laredo stroke survivors can have affordable speech therapy.

 

Bill hopes to turn stroke victims into survivors by telling his inspiring story of ongoing recovery. Additionally, Bill leads a campaign to make stem cell therapy available to every stroke and TBI survivor.

 

LeaAnn Swinney

In 2012, LeaAnn was enjoying her life. She was a professional caregiver who loved her job. She was traveling in Central America enjoying the weather and food, when she suddenly collapsed.

 

Doctors found an issue with her heart. They placed a mechanical valve in her. LeaAnn gradually recovered. It seemed life was back on track again. In Sept 2014, LeaAnn went for a dental surgery.

 

Unexpectedly the surgery triggered an infection. After the dental surgery, she started to throw up and had flu like symptoms for a month. LeaAnn went to see doctors who said it was just the flu. One night, she went to bed one night with a strange headache. LeaAnn woke up the next morning and fell to her left side. When she woke up, it was in a hospital.

 

LeaAnn had a stroke. Life has been changed forever after that. Her remarkable journey as a survivor began.

 

One thing will never change- her passion to take care others. In her recovery, LeaAnn set up a Facebook support group. She also started working with Strokefocus to improve the stroke care. Listen to her episode.  

  

Nancy Weckwerth

Nancy is a caregiver and author of the book, Don’t Stop the Music, Finding the Joy in Caregiving.

In February of 1991, her husband, John Swan, a Yale trained musician had a massive stroke. To support the family, Nancy stopped her own career as a professional musician to take care of John and support the family. She tried everything.

In the next 26 years, she not only took great care of John, but totally reinvented herself. Nancy built a successful real estate career and became a blogger advocating for caregivers.

Nancy said: "My purpose in life has become training Caregivers to survive and thrive in their role. I want to reach out to Caregivers everywhere."

Caregivers play a particularly important role in early stages of stroke and TBI recovery.