Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. Aside from the good food, cocktails, and football, it’s also a time to give thanks for all of the many blessings in our lives. One individual who is feeling especially thankful this Thanksgiving is Kevin Mathis. Kevin came to Magee after he was involved in a car accident on August 6 and suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) along with other serious injuries. Over the last three months, Kevin has worked tremendously hard in therapy to overcome obstacles and achieve many of the goals he set for himself. After many months in the hospital, Kevin went back to his home in Delaware this Tuesday, November 21. I had the pleasure of working with Kevin as his speech therapist during his time at Magee and am honored to share his story with you today.
Ashley Owens (AO): Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Kevin Mathis (KM): First of all, I want everyone to know that I’m a Texan; therefore, I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan. Just figured I’d get that out of the way! My family and I moved from Texas to Delaware when I was 10 years old, and I ended up going to college at the University of Delaware. I met my wife Sheryl while in college, and we still live in Delaware today with our two kids and our dog. Before my accident, I was working as an IT consultant for JP Morgan Chase. In my free time, I love working out at the gym, spending time with my family, and watching TV.
AO: What goals have you achieved during your time at Magee?
KM: I’ve achieved a variety of goals during my time at Magee. The first one I can think of is my improved ability to move. Initially after my accident, doctors told me I would never be able to move my right arm and leg again. Thankfully, I can now move my right side and am hopeful that I will be able to walk using my own power again in the future. Another goal I’ve achieved is improving my cognitive skills. I’ve been taught to use techniques to help me with remembering details, paying attention, and organizing information. The therapists at Magee have helped me regain a sense of independence, and I’m very thankful for that.
AO: What advice could you give to someone recovering a brain injury or another life-changing event?
KM: My first piece of advice would be to try to maintain an awesome support system around you at all times to help you through your recovery. My support system included my family, friends, and therapy team. Another piece of advice would be to trust your therapists and their recommendations. Trust that they have your best interest at heart and will help move you forward. Throughout my time at Magee, my wife and I would always say, “Every day is Christmas,” meaning every day there was a new milestone or achievement to celebrate in my road to recovery. You have to be patient while your brain is healing and building new connections. Put 100% faith in the process!
AO: What are you most thankful for this year?
KM: I’m honestly just thankful that I’m still here. I’m also excited to be able to go home just in time for Thanksgiving and to be able to spend it with my family. I can’t wait to get my grub on and eat my mom’s dressing, sweet potatoes, and collard greens!
To learn more about the Brain Injury Program at Magee, click here.
Photo: Kevin with his therapy team (L to R: Occupational Therapist Paula Bonsall, Physical Therapist Susie Detwiler, Kevin Mathis, Speech Therapist Ashley Owens)