Motivational Speaker Born from a Coma

Waking up from a coma after my third Traumatic Brain Injury was a Gift. Relearning to Speak, Read, Write, Walk and get my Senior Management Banking job back was beyond miraculous to some. Evolving from severe Speech Aphasia Impediments to a Motivational Speaker was unthinkable! Those who didn't know me would say, "Greg a 3x TBI Survivor can't do it". "Can't" doesn't define me. The Neuro Rehab Team embedded TBI recovery tools that will last the rest of my life. Learn how the loss of a chunk of my left brain helped transition me into a Motivational Speaker.

Motivational Speaker Born from a Coma

Posted on by Greg Nordfelt

Functioning without a much of my left brain allowed a new and wild ride into my creative self. Imaginative nuances flowed from a 35 year senior management banker. Who knew it would lead down a brand spanking newfangled highway. 

Brad Zollinger, Director of Intermountain Healthcare's Neuroscience Division, and Bonnie Larsen, Occupational Therapist, inadvertently started me off on my Motivational Speaking career in November, 2012. It was just over a year after my third Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

They asked me to speak at Intermountain Medical Center's 5 Year Neuro-Rehabilitation Reunion Celebration Dinner. There were over 300 Neuro Rehab physicians, therapists, pathologists, psychologists, and their partners. Sounded daunting. 

Brad's office was on IMC's 12th floor in the midst of the Acute Neuro Rehab team. Bonnie was one of the skilled therapists and physicians who gave life to my rehabilitation. Patient room 1219 was mine. They were aware of my efforts to relearn how to speak, read, write and walk again after waking up from my coma caused by my Harley accident on August 15, 2011. Working twice as hard as I was asked in order to get my banking job back was well known. It was extremely rare for professional TBI survivors to regain their previous employment positions but after several months I made it back full time!

Agreeing to present was a given. How could I say no. This Neuro Rehab team just helped me recover my life and a sense of reality! Looking back, I realize I didn't have all of my wits together yet. But I was ready to speak with determination and passion.

Standing tall, I carried my "Show and Tell" bag with my Neuro Rehab tools to the podium:

  • "Black Binder" from speech therapy used to help me relearn to read and write (similar to a Franklin Day Planner which I used to chicken scratch my calendar, notes, meds, goals, etc).
  • iPad my wife, Laura, gave me in the hospital. During one of my Occupational Therapy sessions she watched me take a half hour putting a 4 piece puzzle together. When the therapist asked what was on the puzzle, I couldn't say butterfly. I was frustrated and cried. Laura ran to the Apple store tearing up and said, "give me the best iPad you have and fill it full of brain games. I don't care what it costs". I loved playing brain games on that iPad and couldn't put it down.
  • Speaking Modules I learned from my speech therapists. I practiced them non-stop in my patient room and at home.
  • Red Waist Band from physical therapy used to help me relearn to walk.
  • Frosted Flakes were on display. I was taught to eat breakfast again during my hospital stay using Frosted Flakes as a teaser. I spilled the Frosted Flakes instantly all over the podium as I began explaining my recovery. Audience laughter set me at ease and I cracked up. I love making fun of myself.

Laughter relaxed me. I directed my remarks to help the medical professionals understand the heights they reached on my behalf in each facet of my recovery. As I spoke, I was interconnected with each member of the audience at the deepest level. They grasped the depth of service provided for me and my family.

It was on me to help Neuro Rehab specialists feel good about themselves and KNOW how critical their job functions are to Brain Injury Survivors and Caregivers.

As they stood and applauded, a new speaking path was unearthed. I was drawn to it from 3 decades of public presentations in the finance world. Other medical presentation opportunities arose as I was relearning my analytical banking functions. Magazine articles and TV News appearances came my way as my speaking path developed.  

The Old Greg left in a lava ditch after crushed by a Harley. Without realizing it on stage a year later, A New Greg began evolving into a Motivational Speaker


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