About This Film:

As a certified first aid attendant at St John’s Ambulance, with hundreds of hours of training and well over one thousand hours of volunteer first aid experience, even Bryce Kowalsky didn’t fully recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke in himself on that fateful day near the end of February 2011. It wasn’t until his second stroke, more than 24 hours later, that the emergency became apparent. On February 28, 2011 Bryce was rushed to emergency and admitted to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops British Columbia. The following day he was rushed by medical jet to Vancouver and almost 10 days later, on March 10, Bryce underwent complex brain surgery during which he sustained a further debilitating stroke.

Bryce Kowalsky was no stranger to the experience of surgery.  Throughout his life Bryce has endured over 27 surgeries to help him walk, speak and deal with the simplest of things that most people take for granted. He always faced these surgeries throughout his life almost stoically without showing fear or sadness.  Instead, he continued to demonstrate his incredible compassion and care for other people even in the face of his own adversity. But, this surgery was different. For the first time Bryce was scared. It was the beginning of a long road to recovery. It was wrought with uncertainty. There were so many questions and so few answers for Bryce and for his family.

This production did not begin as a documentary. It didn’t begin as a film at all. In 2012 Mastermind Studios was assisting a friend of the studio with developing his doctoral thesis. It was an experimental approach to therapy by helping a patient gain control though creating a narrative around their experiences and circumstances. Michael Koehn, a registered clinical counsellor, was working with a stroke patient and wanted to try narrative therapy to help his client with this new therapeutic approach to mental health and speech. Traditional narrative therapy tools like pen, paper, dictation recorder or computer were replaced with a video camera. Over the following months we watched a very special story unfold. It was a story where the patient, Bryce Kowalsky, wanted to share his experience with others who might go through similar things. Bryce wanted to give people the answers and the hope that he and his family had so desperately needed but could not find.

This is a production about one man’s, and one family’s, experience with stroke.  It is a gripping and emotional story providing valuable information about the symptoms of stroke, expectations for treatment and the very long road to recovery. It’s about a condition that, at some point, will afflict most people directly or through someone they care about. A story combined with education that is not boring and ineffective in its ability to teach and provide valuable insight. This documentary film and its companion online interactive digital media will save lives, help people cope, and offer people A Stroke of Hope.