Matt was admitted to the Glenside Hospital Neuro Rehabilitation Unit (NRU) for a period of intensive therapy and within eleven months was transferred into the simulated supported living bungalows of Horizon Close to offer him a more independent living environment.
Matt, who experienced a brain injury following a car accident, has been receiving pet therapy for nearly a year. Before the accident he enjoyed playing tennis and football and going to rugby matches. His passion was music, playing guitar, composing songs, writing his own lyrics and going to gigs. He also liked going to the theatre and walking his flat coat retriever Bracken.
He particularly looks forward to seeing Jasper as it eases his separation from Bracken. He loves to have him on his lap and cuddle him and enjoys the comfort that tactileness brings. On good weather days he will hold Jasper’s lead as he walks to heel alongside Matt’s wheelchair.
According to Matt’s mum, Katherine: “Matt has always loved dogs but likes most animals. He also likes donkeys and has a real interest in owls (you should see Matt’s room at Glenside, he has pictures of owls everywhere). He has also recently started Equine therapy to improve his core stability and hopefully ultimately his tremor.
‘From our perspective we think Matthew’s positivity, patience and determination have all been key to his recovery and all part of his original character. He has always been a loving son in an incredibly close and loving family and there is no medicine that can match that. Matthew was in a non-induced coma for nearly three months following his accident and we were told by many experts, many times that Matthew would ‘never be able to do anything’; but we knew our boy and we believed in our son and never lost hope. We hung on to the belief that, like the lottery, it has to be someone, so with miracles happening out there, why couldn’t we have one – and now we have – Matthew truly is our miracle.
‘Jasper’s visits have truly inspired and surprised us as to the power of animals in the recovery of people. So much so, that when Matthew returns home I intend to join Pets as Therapy and train our own dog Bracken to become one and then visit our local hospitals with Matt too. ‘Matt has a postcard on his wall saying: ‘I Can and I Will. Watch me’ which epitomises his attitude to everything. Matt says: ‘If you only believe in one thing, then you have got to believe in yourself’.”