The dream of becoming a professional photographer seemed very unlikely for Matt as he had Parkinson’s disease as a young boy.
However, the introduction of deep brain stimulation (DBS) has helped Matt reach heights he did not know were possible. Here’s how his life has been transformed since surgery in 2006…..
‘I used to love swimming as a boy. It was my swimming instructor when I was seven who noticed my legs sank as I swam. I couldn’t stand in assemblies for long at school either. My mother took me to our GP at Booth Hall, which is a children’s hospital, where I spent torturous weeks having tests done to me. I was only ten years old and wasn’t diagnosed with the (Parkinson’s) disease until nine years later.
Living with Parkinson’s was very hard as a child. Although I look back on my school days with fondness, I hated being different. Some of the drugs I took were pretty unpleasant. After being on one drug for over ten years I began suffering terrible panic attacks – evidently side-effects of long-term use. I also had to inject myself with a drug which made me sick. Not the most practical treatment.
After taking all sorts of medication for 28 years, I heard about DBS and was recommended for the surgery. I had an operation to insert electrodes, which are controlled by a unit fixed to my chest – like a pace-maker – that I can alter the symptoms. It’s a bit like being the Bionic Man! While it’s not a cure, DBS is easing my symptoms and reducing my reliance on drugs. It’s had a major effect on my life.
Since the operation, my life continues to go from strength to strength. I was granted IOC (International Olympic Committee) Accreditation to be a photographer for the football tournament at London Olympics 2012. I write a sports column in my local paper and this is proving very popular, although I don’t get paid.
I’ve also married my partner Viv. I couldn’t be happier!’
Deep brain stimulation has helped Matt reduce his dependency on medication and improve his quality of life. The treatment can also be used for conditions including epilepsy, cluster headaches and dystonia.