Matthew Ricketts – Brain Injury

Learn more about Matthew's experience with a Brain Injury at Children's Hospital.

Many have described Matthew Ricketts’ recovery from near-fatal injuries suffered in a car crash as “miraculous.” But in truth, it was the expertise and fast action of the trauma team at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh that saved Matthew, 18, from his horrific injuries.

On May 1, 2004, Matthew was a passenger in a car that blew a tire, ran up an embankment and flipped over. He was not wearing a seat belt. Matthew was ejected through the rear window and suffered severe head and lung injuries that doctors feared would be fatal.

Edward M. Barksdale Jr., MD, of UPMC Children's Division of Pediatric General and Thoracic Surgery, headed the trauma team that evaluated Matthew’s injuries. He recalls those injuries as life-threatening and says Matthew’s blood pressure was undetectable. Because of his lung injury, Matthew was not able to take oxygen into his lungs and was in danger of bleeding to death. His brain was swelling and he slipped into a coma.

Dr. Barksdale surgically repaired Matthew’s lung and the swelling in his brain began to subside. Within a month, Matthew awoke from his coma and recovered quickly, leaving the hospital June 9, 2004.

At UPMC Children's, the multidisciplinary approach to care for Matthew included trauma, surgery, and neurosurgery.

P. David Adelson, MD, FACS, FAAP, a pediatric neurosurgeon who also was part of the team who cared for Matthew, said the teen is expected to have a good outcome. Matthew suffered a traumatic brain injury, and the mortality rate for those injuries is 50 percent to 75 percent.

While the brain injury places Matthew at risk for developing problems with memory or with focusing his attention, he has recovered extremely well.

Matthew returned to school for his senior year (2004 – 05 school year) and rejoined the school’s soccer and fitness teams, playing a starring role.