He has lived for almost nine years with a rare Central Nervous System disorder known as CRPS or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. This is a form of chronic pain syndrome that mainly affects an arm or leg (learn more). In Matthew’s case, CRPS affects his entire right leg up to his pelvis and his lower spine.
Matt is not just a resilient Complex Regional Pain Syndrome warrior but also a testicular cancer survivor who has turned his passion for content creation and videography into a career. Initially, he broke his fifth metatarsal in a hockey game and, over the progression of 15 months, suffered ongoing deterioration due to the lack of diagnosis and challenges to access specific treatments. When Matt was first injured, he never thought that this would mean long-term disability, but it did. He was a proud man who did not accept that he needed a wheelchair. He believed that a wheelchair was going to affect his life negatively. For almost two years, he used a standard hospital steel wheelchair, which only aggravated his condition and caused him more pain.
Matt continuously advocates for what it means to be an ambulatory wheelchair user while simultaneously trying to bring some good to the world in his unique way.
“I was already playing video games and streaming at the same time, and I realized that I could use this opportunity to do some good. So, I continue video games and Twitch streaming, and my profits are 100% donated to organizations.
I’ve done many crazy things for charity! I’ve dyed my hair purple, done the one-chip challenge, eaten hot gummy bears, and even asked my daughter to do my makeup on camera. I will continue doing more funny things to make sure that I can continue helping philanthropically and use my voice to bring attention to important things. I want to use my platform to provide opportunities and access to reliable information, to break stereotypes of what it means to be a wheelchair user and to teach people about what it means to be an “ambulatory wheelchair user,” which is a relatively new term for many people. However, it's a term that's becoming more and more prevalent because people are understanding now that you don't need to be in a wheelchair full time, you don't need to be in a walker full time.”
Still, this is not the only thing that Matt advocates for; he also helps people who live with CRPS, just like him, and who are struggling with the idea of getting a wheelchair. Matt speaks about his own experience and conveys the importance of getting a piece of mobility equipment that will benefit them in the long term. Equipment that will bring them access and opportunities that they thought were lost. This translates into his love relationship with carbon fiber and his APEX C Carbon Fiber wheelchair from Motion Composites.
“When I talk about wheelchairs to my CRPS people, I want to make sure that they understand that there are two main things that you need to consider before buying a wheelchair. The first is finances and funding, and the second one is that you want a reliable product that will last a long time. After all, you want to get mobility equipment that will give you back access to a life that you perhaps once had or that will allow you to attend events that you shied away from because you didn't have full access to them in the way you needed. This is what caused me to think that I could benefit from having a wheelchair.
Two years after I got injured, I was still using a steel hospital wheelchair, which caused me more pain, and added more things for me to deal with that I did not need (like shoulder pain and neck pain). I was also commuting to downtown Toronto, so my Occupational Therapist and I knew I needed something light to get me around. This is where Motion Composites came in.
Before getting injured, I was an athlete, so I knew about carbon fiber and all the amazing advantages that the material has. I knew how lightweight and strong it could be, so titanium and aluminum were not even considered.
My occupational Therapist made sure that I got something that matched my lifestyle. Initially, I used a demo wheelchair from Motion Composites, and to say it was night and day would be an understatement! I knew immediately that I needed that wheelchair! I talked to my wife about it, and we just went for it.
My wife and I like to call my Motion Composites wheelchair the Bugatti of wheelchairs because of how lightweight it is, how fast I can move with it, and how it was designed! This wheelchair has changed my perspective of things; I am happy to be in the mental space where I am, where I look at my chair, and I see the endless opportunity of it.
I love my Motion Composites wheelchair. I love that it is durable and reliable while at the same time, ultralightweight. I did not expect it to have such a huge positive impact on my life. Now, I have my second Motion Composites APEX C Carbon Fiber wheelchair and it is smaller and lighter, and it makes me feel like a speed demon!”
We want to thank Matt for the time that he took to meet with us and for sharing his love for carbon fiber, and his Motion Composites APEX C Carbon Fiber wheelchair with the world. Make sure to follow Matt on social media (Instagram, Facebook) if you want to learn more about CRPS, or simply if you are interested in adaptive gaming. Also, check out his work as a photographer on his website.
Stay tuned; in Part 2, we will learn more about Matt’s story and how he helped another wheelchair user.