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From occupational therapist to stroke survivor to inspirational speaker!!

Occupational Therapy

We think it’s awesome that Emma Gee has taken the time in her busy schedule to write a guest blog post!! Emma is an occupational therapist, a professional speaker and a stroke survivor. In a moment, Emma’s life changed from that of a professional health provider and long-distance runner to that of a stroke survivor. You can check out more about Emma at

“How would you cope if you stroked at the young age of 24? Would you curl up and wish life didn’t exist or would you STEP UP and choose to bounce back!

At 24 years of age I did survive a stroke and as a full-time occupational therapist working with stroke survivors was suddenly confronted with what life was really like for my patients. In 2005, while undergoing brain surgery to remove an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in my brainstem – a congenital deformity present at birth – I had a stroke. Thankfully I survived, but was faced a daunting list of physical challenges: I couldn’t move, speak, swallow or blink. I was only 24.

Eight years into my stroke recovery, I have now reformed my identity and adapted to my life as a disabled person. During this time I have had intensive therapy – relearning how to speak and swallow in speech therapy, walk and blink in physiotherapy, adapted to my everyday activities in occupational therapy. Throughout this time, I also had to ensure I was not only physically recovering but that I was emotionally coping as well.

The emotional toll my stroke has had on my supporters and I has been huge.

I don’t think I ever fathomed that the aftermath of stroke would continue for the rest of my life.  I have personally found engaging in meaningful tasks like writing, yoga and swimming has enabled me to deal with this grief better. Also, sharing my experiences with others, as both a patient and therapist, makes all that I’ve endured (and still do) worthwhile.

Now with this new-found insight, I have chosen to use my experiences to hopefully make a difference in others lives. I work part-time at the National Stroke Foundation but have commenced an Inspirational Speaking business at  Learning to speak again post-stroke, and realizing the importance of sharing my story to help others, were the catalysts for me taking on speaking professionally.

Today, and thousands of presentations later, as an Inspirational Speaker I have had an amazing opportunity to speak to a broad client group: from healthcare (associations, hospitals and rehabilitation facilities); businesses & corporate events; community organisations; through to educational facilities. In this business I focus largely on the topics of client-centred care and resilience through my keynote presentations, workshops, writing and consultancy.

With a background in Occupational Therapy and as a Stroke Survivor, I guess I’m now a living example of what it takes to step in another’s shoes and truly bounce back in life. Through my own business, I aim to both educate, captivate and challenge my audiences to consider what IS possible in their own lives. I am so passionate about enhancing client-centred service delivery and resilience in the lives of all I works with and try hard to leave my audiences inspired to bounce back and step up. To see them moving past life’s hurdles to what’s possible – to see is “that it’s not what happens to you that matters, it’s how you choose to deal with it!”.

4 replies to “From occupational therapist to stroke survivor to inspirational speaker!!”

  1. myphysio liz moore suggestedl contact you as l’m interested in visiting primary schools to share my stroke story and help educate others about stroke and especially disability prestroke l was a primary schoolteacher l retired in 2009 after 38years of teachingl’m hemiplegic in a wheelchair and have a passion to once again conect with children my stroke was for areason this may be why to share and inspire others to develop resilience ,apasion to reach their goals recognise their talent/s and how best to set realistic goals to achieve their dreamsand also to see a disabled person to ask questions of me school children need to meet someone like me lhave something to offer tochildren to open their minds todisabiliy not for sympathy but empathy l’m in the choir of hope and inspiration formerly the choir of hard knocks we have a program for secondary schools called share our stories sos regards frankbuttersa disabled stroke survivor with apassion to rebuild his life and hope share his inspiration and dtermination with others see the person not the disabilty sorry l tend to waffle on at times but the stroke didn’t take my abilty to talk and engage an audience in whatever topic l wish to deliver liz said you would be a great inspiration for me as a stroke survivor and key note speaker frankx

    1. Hi Frank,

      Thanks for your comment. It is great to see what you are up to following a stroke! I have ensured that Emma Gee is aware that you are looking to get in contact with her.

      Amanda – Founder My Health Career.

  2. I found your story very good on the DVD Tackling depression after stroke . I had a stroke 9 years ago and get depressed sometimes BUT your story has influenced me a lot. I am getting help now I know it’s going to take time but after seeing you and your mum i believe I can get better. Thank you regards Tim Bashford . PS keep up the good work

  3. Thank you for a very impressive talk about your experience when you had a stroke on the DVD Tackling depression after stroke .it turned my head around and made me think . I had a major stroke 9 years and was very depressed I thought of committing suicide at one stage because I was so depressed.. But after seeing you I realise I have to look after myself and my loved ones. I am now getting treatment for my depression it going well and it takes time but thank you for a wonderful story. Regards Tim Bashford

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