Our mission is to create and foster awareness and change within the health care and education professions that with the human brain anything is possible. With the right attention and therapy, people with traumatic brain injuries and disabilities can be reinforced and enhanced to much higher functioning levels. A primary goal of Positive Matters, Inc. is to assist people with these disabilities to participate in their communities to the fullest extent possible and become valued as productive members of society with a sense of accomplishment.
With Matthew Thomas as our inspiration and founder, Positive Matters, Inc. strives to show traumatic brain injury survivors and other disabled people how they can be their own self-advocate and improve their quality of life. He is the epitome of that spirit, and his story is primarily our story.
Positive Matters, Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit charity tax exempt organization.
ABOUT MATTHEW THOMAS
Three decades ago, Matthew Thomas probably would not have imagined trying to start a non-profit organization with the prospects of raising awareness and support for people with disabilities. At the time, he was fresh out of high school with a football scholarship to Brigham Young University (BYU). He was nineteen, living on his own, and living the dream with a job at Candid Camera.
In June of 1991, he made the decision to ride in the passenger seat of his intoxicated friend’s Volkswagen Beetle. That night, the two were in a serious accident that left the driver with a broken leg, and landed Matt in the hospital in critical condition and in a coma, with just a 5% chance of living. Everyone was told to not expect very much out of Matt for the rest of his life. He was not even expected to be able function on his own after that night, if he ever came out of the coma.
He was in a coma for three months. When he came out of the coma, everyone knew that there was a long, grueling road ahead. Matt wasn’t even able to think on his own yet. He spent another month in the hospital before returning home, only to face a 12-month in-house head injury program through Northridge Hospital called the TGI Care House. At the time, he still could not read, write, shave, shower, or dress on his own. These were all skills that he had to re-teach himself.
Before long, Matt was beginning to feed himself, talk and even start to walk again. After much faith and sometimes near-superhuman determination, Matt surprised even the doctors with the progression of regaining his abilities.
Two years later in 1993, a neighbor, Jim Raué, bought two hydrobikes: basically, a bike used to pedal on water. He gave Matthew the task of cleaning them. What may sound easy was actually a lot for Matt to take on, considering his balance was still coming back to him slowly. Eventually, Matt started to multi-task, something that he wasn’t able to do in the past two years. Prior skills were being re-developed: organization, concentration, attention to safety, endurance, independence, time management, stamina, memory development, and more.
Ultimately, cleaning the hydrobikes led to riding them. Riding the hydrobikes gave Matt a sense of accomplishment that he wasn’t expecting. The rides got longer. In 2011, Matt pedaled a hydrobike 28 miles in 7.5 hours non-stop from Catalina Island to Long Beach, CA to set a world record.
TODAY: GIVING BACK
As the years progressed, Matt became an advocate for not only the consequences of intoxicated driving, but also the support that disabled people and coma patients need in order to improve their quality of life. He spends his time giving speeches about drinking and driving in schools and trying to get through to people before they could potentially make the same mistakes he did. He also works tirelessly with coma patients, using his unique brand of what he calls his “Coma-dentials”.