Mike Barwis, Brock Mealer @ Tedx Ann Arbor "Untapped Potential"

Submitted by clarkiefromcanada on May 5th, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Hello Everyone,

I was emailed this link to Mike Barwis' Tedx presentation at Ann Arbor in early April of this year. I have not seen it on the site and searched it out (if I am wrong, then Mods delete). 

It is just phenomenal and if you can get through it without the tears then you are a stronger man than me. On a professional level, as an experienced therapist and Doctoral candidate I think the points he is making about rehab outcomes and current practice assumptions are exceedingly valid.

Watch the video, you'll feel better about all of our potentials after.

Edit: Plain text embed not taking...click the link or someone below help me out on the embed. Tks.







May 5th, 2013 at 10:49 AM ^

Yeah, it's tough work swiveling your eyes back and forth...

What we need is public speakers who stand completely still and machines designed to pop Chee-tos in our mouths while we drool down our chins.  How can we call ourselves "the leaders and the best" when nobody's created a Chee-tos feeder yet...?


May 5th, 2013 at 11:14 AM ^

I don't think anyone said that was the takeaway.  Recognizing the impressiveness of Barwis's work and being distracted by his public speaking flaws are not mutually exclusive reactions.  I prefer when speakers take a little walk when they talk but you have to admit he was pacing weirdly fast.  If someone notices it then it's a distraction.  That's all I was saying.  More than that, I wish he would have gotten more into the nitty gritty and some of the ups and downs of the rehab.  With the talk that short it seemed almost like it was no problem at all, when we all know that's not the reality.


May 5th, 2013 at 12:14 PM ^

FWIW, TEDx talks are timed and are even shorter than the larger TED events. Depending on where you go I think the maximum is up to 18 minutes and designed for a "smart generalist" audience or something like that.

I think in terms of the nitty gritty he is speaking, at a theoretical and technical level, to application of loading principles that are somewhat atypical in current care paths typically employed in rehab facilities etc. Plus or minus, Brock Mealer's and Chris Williams'  walking does challenge the hegemony of the current "evidence base" in terms of approach to gait/vestibular re-learning and application of the same in practical contexts. Barwis supports intensities that are decidedly different in terms of volume training, load etc.

Barwis does also speak to design principles related to application of his standing frame that enabled loading/off loading and standing (if I was him I'd patent that thing and go to some of the larger academic conferences for Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Athletic Training and brand that thing out a bit). I guess it depends on how much nitty and/or gritty you're looking for.

While I'd happily listen to 2 plus hours of highly technical analysis at an anotomical and physiological level and referencing associated neuro function I'm just not sure that the audience at the TEDx is right for that focus.


May 5th, 2013 at 12:47 PM ^

Got a good laugh out of this.  You's a smart jock Clarkie!  I wasn't necessarily talking about THAT much nitty gritty since I had to read your response three times to really figure out what you were saying.  Part of working in medical/PT/OT/etc. fields is being able to explain things in laymen's terms, so I think he could make it interesting and expand on the innovation of his techniques a little more, and give us some insight into the process.  TED is all about innovation after all.  I really just want to know more about the progression rather than I hung him up from this frame and now magically here is Brock Mealer ladies and gentleman.  It seemed like he cut out the meat of the presentation.  Maybe that's just me.  You're right though if they limited him to ten minutes it would be tough.


May 5th, 2013 at 12:50 PM ^

Barwis is obviously a high-energy guy ... and that likely manifests in him through near constant motion.

It could also be that large venue public speaking isn't his most comfortable thing, and some of the pacing around was just nervous energy.

Public speaking on a large stage requires a certain balance of movement and remaining stationary.  Movement to maintain visual interest; stationary to refocus the audience and make emphatic points.

So, if we stipulate the message was terrific and we just focus on the delivery style ... then I think Barwis could enhance his delivery by learning to pause, fix the feet and address the audience at key points in his message ... then resume movement, but learn to make it a stroll rather than a stride.

My two cents.  (I have some experience speaking in front of audiences.)


May 5th, 2013 at 3:03 PM ^

Friedrich Nietzsche: "Never trust a thought that did not come by walking. The muscles must be in celebration with the mind."

I think Barwis might agree.

I think Barwis and Nietzsche might also agree with my own assessment of your all-too-common sentiment: The ease with which one is distracted is more an inidication of a bad listener than a bad speaker.


May 5th, 2013 at 10:52 AM ^

Thanks to the OP for posting this.  Thanks to Mike Barwis for listening to his inner voice that not only brought him to Michigan but started Barwis methods and changed so many lives and now means so much to so many.  Pure coincidence I think not.


May 5th, 2013 at 10:56 AM ^

It is amazing to see Mike Barwis, who I erroneously thought reached the pinnacle of his profession as  a coordinator at a major university sports program, rise even farther up and accomplish which I thought was close to unaccomplishable. Making the crippled overcome their misfortune and walk, in the process transcending what they ever thought could be possible. Now, those same individuals have become a becon for others who wish to overcome their misfortune or stumbeling block, no matter how large. 


May 5th, 2013 at 11:30 AM ^

Watching this gives me the motivation to become the best athletic trainer I can. I recently was accepted into the AT program at eastern Michigan university. I was accepted into Michigan just not directly into the program. And being 33 I decided not to waste another year. My life has been nothing but giving to others as i have done 14 years in the Army. I only hope to be able to achieve half of what Mike Barwis has. Thanks for posting this. l


May 5th, 2013 at 11:56 AM ^

"It's not a game. It's not an accolade. It's not a championship. None of those things matter. It's the journey"... If this video, this man, these words don't inspire you then you're probably dead.


May 5th, 2013 at 2:56 PM ^

The work and achievements of Barwis, Mealer, and 3rd gentleman on stage are deserving of more than an Amway-esque rally.  Would like to hear more about the methods, hard work,  and physical and emotional process instead of what feels like a pep rally.  Felt a bit like a sales conference when there's so much more depth to explore here.


May 6th, 2013 at 8:19 AM ^

Getting the message and story out are what is good here.  Brock I believe is trying to build a career out of being a motivational speaker/coach.  


May 5th, 2013 at 1:31 PM ^

First I will say that watching Brock come out on his own was amazing and seeing Barwis cry shows you how much he cares about his athletes and how much it really touched him, which is amazing. I have a lot of respect for anyone who has ever taken on a job of a college strength and conditioning coach because it is an extremely difficult job.


To clear up regarding some discussion on scientific principles I think there was some confusion there by Barwis between Wolff’s Law, Davis’s Law, and The General Adaptation Syndrome. Wolff’s Law is about the idea that bone remodels along the lines of the stress placed on it. And, although I think he could have been talking about bone remodeling I don’t think he really was. Davis’s Law basically states the same, but in regard to soft tissue remodeling. I’m still not sure he was referencing soft tissue remodeling either. I think he was really citing The General Adaptation Syndrome, which states that the body must be able to adapt and respond to the stresses placed upon it and does so by following a specific and predictable pattern, which would include all kinds of stress. This is the essence of what I think Barwis was actually referencing, but that’s my guess. Either way I think his apparatus and way he trained Brock was a very creative technique and brave of him to take on the challenge of something he knew probably little about. It reminded me of another video of a kid and trainer that is doing some amazing things so I thought I would share it.

Regarding strength coaches, they come in all abilities and personality types. Granted a lot of football strength coaches tend to be the loud, in your face types, which may not be the most eloquent speakers and are better motivators, but that’s not always true. Jerry Martin from UCONN is someone that is more analytical and not very loud. Chris Doyle of Iowa is a guy that is a good motivator and can be loud, but is also a pretty analytical guy and quite well spoken. I know his programs and philosophies quite well as I worked for a guy in his coaching tree. If you really want to get a good idea of a strength coach that is a great presenter take a look at Martin Rooney. I can't imbed this video, so you have to follow the links, but it’s a great example.

Martin Rooney's link:


To view the video click on the above link, scroll down the the video titled "Motivation: Unlocking Your Personal Success Formula".


May 5th, 2013 at 3:41 PM ^

Well at least DickRod did one thing right when he hired Mike. This is very touching and inspiring, this reminds me of all my injured Marines that are walking with no legs. Thanks for posting!


May 5th, 2013 at 5:47 PM ^

I was lucky enough to attend TEDxUofM this year. Barwis had a great speech, and the ensemble was pretty special.

John U Bacon also had a great speech about Jackie Robinson. If it is online you should check it out.


May 6th, 2013 at 12:03 AM ^

I am amazed by what Mike Bawris has been able to accomplish with Brock & the other persons recovering from injuries which rendered them unable to walk. They all inspire me to help others achieve their best.


May 6th, 2013 at 8:16 AM ^

TEDx speakers are only allotted 15 minutes.  Intentionally done to focus the speaker.  Who gives a rat's ass if Mike paces because that's exactly what Mike does when you spend time with him.  Frenetic is an understatement and you see on stage exactly what he is.  What he has done with/for these people (and is still doing) is incredible.  

Mr. Yost

May 6th, 2013 at 9:28 AM ^

Mike Barwis.

It was a great speech and very inspiring...but I'm watching Brock Mealer walk, not Mike Barwis. Mike Barwis has never been told he'd never walk again.