Injured SJ football player heading home from hospital

December 23, 2009 7:42:33 PM PST
This will be a happy holiday for a San Jose family that has been going through weeks of uncertainty over their critically injured son. Matthew Blea, the 16-year-old football player hurt in a game on Thanksgiving, is heading home from the hospital.

It has been a long road to recovery. First, brain surgery, then an induced coma followed by rehabilitation therapy. Now, nearly a month later, Blea is going home, accompanied by his mother, father and aunt.

"I would like to thank my family, friends and the community for their prayers and support on my recovery," Blea said outside the hospital Wednesday.

His doctor said he has come a long way since the Thanksgiving Day "Big Bone" game between his school, San Jose High Academy and Lincoln High School.

Blea took a hit and fell to the ground. He managed to get back up, but collapsed moments later. It happened out of view of most spectators until they saw an ambulance arrive to rush him to the hospital.

Blea suffered brain swelling and a blood clot between his skull and brain. The large scars on his skull show the extent of the surgery.

His rehabilitation doctor said he has been a great patient.

"He's doing really well. As you saw, he's walking very well. His speech is clearing up. He's still a little bit weak, but you know what, he's getting a lot better. We're happy that we're going to be able to send him home for Christmas," Dr. Lisa Lombard said.

Blea's father, who is the team's defense coordinator, says his son only remembers going to the game and the first couple of plays.

Football remained Blea's passion in the hospital.

"We watch every football game imaginable, so he hasn't lost love of the game," Dave Blea said. "Toby Gerhart came to visit him and the Raiderettes. That was pretty nice."

Now Blea faces months of outpatient therapy.

"The recovery process from brain injury can be anywhere between six to 12 months. So we've seen a very nice trajectory of recovery thus far and so we're hoping he's going to continue with that," Lombard said.

Doctors say brain injuries such as Blea's may cause short-term memory loss and lack of concentration so he will be getting a combination of physical, occupational and speech therapy.


Load Comments