Kati’s life is a beautiful ode to human resilience.

  – Emilia Lahti

What do you know about LOCKED-IN SYNDROME?

LIS for short is a condition where the patient is fully aware of everything but cannot make their muscles move. They are completely paralyzed, and they cannot even communicate (speak).

Imagine yourself on the moon, an echo of silence surrounds you as the cold bitterly embraces you, everything begins to ache, you become stiff from the cold and can no longer move. You are trapped under a pitch –  black sky, you try to scream, and nothing comes out, any sound at all, no one is there to understand you or your pain. Trapped! How would YOU handle this situation?

90% of those with this condition die within the first four months. This story is about 1 of those that belongs to the 10%.

“What do you know about Locked-in-Syndrome” the Managing Editor asked. “Excuse me, what did you say?”

He had a yellow note pad in his hand. “The Käpylä Physical Rehabilitation Center called and offered an interesting sounding story. A young photo model has fallen ill with some awful disease, can’t talk or move anymore. We could get a touching story out of this”.

The ingredients for a story were good: a young beautiful woman, unknown illness, tragic fate. We decided to do a story, although Suomen Kuvalehti does not go after gossip. It, however, felt like a serious, human interest story.

   – Leeni Peltonen

Kati ”Young achiever of 2014”

The Finnish author, blogger Kati van der Hoeven-Lepistö, is the award-winner ´The Finnish young achiever of the year 2014´. The prize was awarded by the junior division of the Chamber of Commerce International Finland.

Kati van der Hoeven-Lepistö is a 40-year-old former supermodel, whose career was cut short after an afflicted brain stem infarction in 1995. Kati was 20-years-old at that time, Kati lost the power of movement and the power of speech completely. Only her eyes are working, and she communicates with a letter chart.

The grand assemblage of instruments according to van der Hoeven is determination, faith and toughness, these enable her to live a full life. She has helped and encouraged others to cope with being paralyzed and moving forward.

Kati is the author of her life experiences in the book ´Blink of an eye´ (only in Finnish), and she is an active blogger. According to the jury van der Hoeven-Lepistö fosters a positive attitude to life, and she has affected thousands of people’s life and attitude towards life by teaching acceptance of diversity and understanding (spiritual growth).

The Young Achiever is the world’s most prestigious award, the junior division Chamber of Commerce International Finland to share their field and in his own right performing between 18 and 40 years of Finnish citizens. Competition is the national implementation of international ´The Outstanding Young Person Awards´.

Forbes.com Sep 1, 2014

I recently heard the story of another Finn on the Positive Psychology Facebook Group (30K+ members).  About 20 years ago, Kati van der Hoeven, a former Finnish supermodel, lost her ability to move and speak.   Since that time, she’s become a leading advocate for people with Locked-In Syndrome and other conditions using an eye-to-computer system to manage her writing.  For this story, I communicated with Kati via Facebook Messenger, marveling the speed with which she is able to correspond.  Is it the Finn in Kati, or something else?  Not sure, but I think I got a better understanding – and appreciation — of sisu.

Giovanni Rodriguez, Forbes contributor



Click here for: Kati’s TEDx talk; Imagine if you had a stroke (video)
Click here for: Kati’s vlog; Who is Kati? (video)
Click here for: The life of Kati on ‘My house of European history (video)
Click here for: A bit of Kati’s life (video)
Click here for: Kati’s portfolio ‘Talking Eyes’ (video) 
Click here for: Kati’s Huffington post blog 
Click here for: Kati’s ‘Hand in Hand show’ interview on stroke focus (audio)
Click here for: Kati’s interview (video)
Click here for: Kati’s YouTube-channel (videos)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     A young and upcoming Finnish model who was left paralyzed after a stroke shares her life experiences in her blog. Kati is a true (SISU) inspirational model who shows that through pure determination, faith and perseverance anyone can make the best out of their lives and live it at its fullest.


Kati can be followed via; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Strokefocus and Google.



Contact Kati:

Finnish: lepisto.kati@gmail.com

English: kating2312@gmail.com

Support groups:


Kate Allatt

Sisulle ääni

Our Heart Speaks









View all


    IMG_7392 0a5 IMG_20151229_0005 IMG_20151229_0009