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"It’s a magical environment,” Paralympian sings the praises of GF Strong in new documentary: The Road Ahead


It's the people that make this place exceptional, says Dr. Rhonda Willms, Medical Manager, Spine Unit and Physiatrist, who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation. She is one of several GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre (GFS) team members profiled in the heartwarming new documentary, The Road Ahead.

Filmed over the summer by Media One's M1 Films and debuted last week, The Road Ahead shines a spotlight on what makes this Vancouver-based acute care centre world-renowned – the incredible rehabilitation specialists, therapists and staff who work there.

The documentary introduces viewers to two patients, Kathryn Simpson and Teri Thorson, who share how the individualized care and support they received at GFS changed their lives.

Kathryn Simpson

“You're not just a number"

Kathryn, who came to GFS after having a stroke at age 31, while pregnant, says the team of specialists and therapists kept her going during the challenging early days of her rehabilitation.

“It feels like all the sudden you're not just a number – you're a person – and you have a team around you" says Kathryn. “They have the talent and expertise to help push you, as much as you're able to at that time."

Kathryn says the GFS team quickly become critical to her recovery. “These people are a part of your journey. So much more than being a physiotherapist or an occupational therapist. They are helping guide you through this huge life change," she adds.

Teri Thorson

“They help you find a new sense of normal"

Teri, a former Paralympic athlete, participated in the GFS inpatient program after enduring a spinal cord injury in her mid-twenties. For her, the GFS team was central to her accepting her new life with tetraplegia and regaining her independence.

“They're teaching you, helping you find this new sense of normal and helping you learn about your injury and to adapt to you injury," says Teri.

Teri explains that the care team and the other patients come together to support each other in what feels like a “magical environment" that helped her feel positive about the life ahead of her. 

GFS team gets sneak peek during advance screening

The Road Ahead had its national premiere on Accessible Media Inc. (AMI), Channel 888, on November 26. However, before it went to primetime, GFS staff were invited to a special advance screening in their onsite lecture hall – complete with red carpet and goodies provided by the leadership team and a special message from the film's producer thanking them for their incredible dedication to patient care.



Staff posed for pictures on the red carpet before heading into the auditorium. 

Watching the documentary was a powerful experience for staff like Nancy Forseth, Occupational Therapy Practice Coordinator, who was moved by Kathryn and Teri's stories.

“Clients like Kathryn and Teri, as well as all of the clients we help at GF Strong, teach us so much about the power of resilience, determination and hard work," says Nancy. “ As much as we help and teach them, they help and teach us too. I think that is why we feel so privileged and grateful to do the work we do each and every day."

Cori Ross, Regional Director, Rehabilitation and GF Strong Site Lead is thrilled to see the GFS team profiled on the silver screen.

“It feels great to see this incredible group of people honoured like this," she says. “We all know that GF Strong is a very special place and that our teams provide exceptional care. Now the rest of the country knows it too."

The Road Ahead is now available to stream anytime. View it on AMI's website.

Watch the trailer


SOURCE: "It’s a magical environment,” Paralympian sings the praises of GF Strong in new documentary: The Road Ahead ( )
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