Meet Mary Martha

Watching television is usually scheduled relaxation time. But on an early spring day in 2010, it was anything but normal.

Mary Martha, an active woman, sat watching some of her favorite shows when her face unexpectedly began to move on its own. Then, her jaw locked and she felt her throat start to close. She assumed the worst.

“I thought I was having a stroke,” she said. “But then the symptoms went away and I wasn’t really sure what happened.”

Shortly after the incident, she started experiencing severe pain in the back of her head. Even something like a sneeze or a cough would be excruciating. An MRI revealed that she had Chiari Malformation, a structural defect where the brain tissue extends into the spinal canal.

Mary Martha underwent successful brain surgery at UPMC and was able to get back to her active lifestyle. Now she’s feeling great.

“The staff at UPMC? Absolutely amazing,” Mary Martha says.

Although she now lives hundreds of miles from Pittsburgh, she still relies on the world-renowned health care offered at UPMC.