Healthwatch 16: Dancing through Stroke Rehab

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP -- Showing off his dance moves, 57-year-old John Woloski of Plains Township celebrated the last day of his stay at John Heinz Rehab Hospital, part of Allied Services, near Wilkes-Barre.

Let's go back to the beginning. He talked to us about the day in February of 2015, when he was at work as a school principal.

"I started to become a little confused and I started to get a little headache," he recalled.

John took a pain reliever, which didn't work, and spoke with his wife, who told him to get to the school nurse.

"The next 24, 36 hours, I really don't remember much."

John had had a stroke. By the time his wife Cheryl got to him, he was in bad shape.

"He was really just not responsive. He looked at me and didn't recognize me," said Cheryl Woloski.

After a week at Hershey Medical Center, John ended up at John Heinz for about two months, and in the care of physical therapy supervisor Jennifer Fox, who admits John had severe deficits to address.

"He had trouble with his left arm and leg, very weak, trouble with his balance and coordination, specifically the coordination and the timing of his movement," said Fox.

But in getting to know John, they discovered he'd been a music teacher before he was a principal, and John found out one of the members of his therapy team was also a dance instructor.

"So one of the things that we did with him was we decided to introduce music into his program. And as soon as we turned the music on, he was instantly improved," said Fox.

"I said, 'you've got to do me a favor. Before they ever let me out of here, you've got to teach me a dance,'" said John.

And so an idea was born. Making this video wasn't just fun and games, it was part of John's therapy, helping him with balance, coordination, and muscle strength.

Therapists Ann Louise Wojnarski, Patricia Lepore, Lauren Moore, and Lauren Algar say this was shot two years ago, but from time to time becomes viral again.

Now life is getting more back to normal, says John's wife Cheryl.

"Over time, he was able to drive, which gave him his independence back, and he's cooking for me! Cooking dinner every evening!"

"Thank the good Lord that it worked for me," John added. "A lot of it has come back for me, yeah."

John is still in therapy a few days a week. He says he is feeling good, and he and his wife say they're getting ready for their son's wedding where they definitely plan to dance.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.