20-year-old shares her road to recovery after suffering traumatic brain injury

WESTWOOD, Mass. — A teenager from Westwood experienced a major setback years ago -- and now she's sharing her story of survival, hope and recovery.

In 2015, Maddie Walter fell off a cliff and suffered a massive brain injury at just 16 years old.

After a party with her friends led to the group running away from police, Maddie fell 30-feet onto boulders, traumatically fracturing her skull. Surgeons had to remove part of her skull to allow her brain to swell.

"They froze it and four weeks later, they reattached it," described Maddie's mom, Linda Walter. "She was in a coma for two weeks."

Before the incident, Maddie was a star student-athlete at Westwood High School; captain of the field hockey team and a member of the undefeated lacrosse team.

And after, she had to re-learn everything from walking and eating, to smiling and remembering.

"I don't remember most of my life," said Maddie "And obviously my walk is a challenge."

Despite the odds, the now 20-year-old has refused to give up. When the school district and her therapists didn't think it was a good idea for her to go back to high school, she found a way anyway.

"I'm proud of myself because people limit me, and I just knock them down," she said.

She is now a college sophomore.

Maddie's family said they've tried close to 10 different therapies and they are not afraid to try new ones. She's currently getting ready to travel to Colorado in May for an alternative treatment in which lasers will potentially re-energize her damaged brain cells.

The treatment, called "Transcranial Near Infrared Laser Treatment (NILT)" will cost Maddie's family nearly $15,000 including the cost of travel and housing. It is not being covered by insurance.

"It can help stimulate the activity and help neurogrowth, and really activate the brain's neuro-pasticity," said Linda.

Maddie and her parents said they'll never give up.

"I just do things for a while and then build on it – that’s my whole thing," Maddie added. "You start at the bottom and then you add on... you keep getting better."

Maggie will be sharing her road to recovery in a presentation at Boston University on Sunday, March 24 at 3:30 p.m. as part of "The Race Mania Summit + Expo." The free event is part of a conference for athletes and will take place at BU's Fit Rec Center.

If you want to learn more about Maddie's journey and help her family raise money for her therapy, you can visit her Facebook fundraising page.