Bridgepoint Health

Stroke Update: Erin Thompson, Stroke Survivor and Advocate

Posted on Tuesday February 17, 2015
Erin Thompson
Erin Thompson, a stroke survivor and advocate

“It can happen to anyone” - Erin Thompson, mother, motorcyclist, stroke survivor and advocate

Erin Thompson is a proud mother to a busy six-year-old, a wife to a dedicated husband, an active member of the community and a fun-loving woman in her thirties who lives life to the fullest. So when she woke up one morning suddenly finding the right side of her body paralyzed, she was stunned and struggled to make sense of it.

At the time, Erin was working six days a week while also training to pass a fire fighters physical test. During the test she felt weak and noticed her body temperature was through the roof, but reasoned she wasn’t up to the physical challenge quite yet. Later she learned she was wrong.

That first morning of her paralysis, as her husband Jason rushed to get Erin to the hospital, he found she had already dragged herself to the car. “That shows you her determined spirit,” he says. Together they went to Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie, where Erin was quickly sent by ambulance to St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

Erin was told she had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke due to cerebral cavernoma. “I have a cluster of deformed veins that look like a raspberry in my brain stem,” says Erin. Opting to forego a risky surgery to remove it, Erin and her family knew the next step was to find an excellent rehab facility. “I knew rehab would be pivotal in my recovery,” she notes. “At such a young age, I wanted to make sure I got the best care possible – and Bridgepoint was the easy choice!”

Erin first arrived at Bridgepoint paralyzed in a wheelchair and began her physiotherapy, occupational and speech therapy sessions right away. She credits Bridgepoint staff for her quick progression, “Dr. Heather MacNeill checked on me every morning and helped to explain my condition in plain language that my family and I could understand” says Erin. “She set realistic expectations so I knew exactly what to anticipate in my recovery journey.” Erin took full advantage of Bridgepoint’s programs such as stroke education sessions, bingo co-ordinated by recreational therapy and even patient holiday meals.                             

From wheelchair, to walking in six weeks, Erin astonished all of her clinicians and family. “When I went back to see my doctor at St. Michael’s Hospital, he said he had never seen someone in my position recover that well in such a short time,” she says. That’s when Erin realized how lucky she was.

Now a stroke advocate Erin says, “It can happen to anyone. I was fortunate to have Bridgepoint – the peace, quiet and therapy was exactly what I needed to heal. I recommend it to everyone I can.” Step-by-step, Erin is working her way back to her previous active lifestyle. She volunteers with her daughter’s school, is renovating her new home and driving again – even her motorcycle!

Learn more about Bridgepoint's stroke programs.