Michigan City High School student overcomes odds, walks in graduation

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About a month ago, WNDU told you about a Michigan City High School student who suffered a life-threatening brain injury after a pole vaulting accident.

It's been a scary time for her and for family -- but Sunday, she graduated from high school.

Courtney Brinckman is a 4.0 student with a full tuition scholarship to Indiana University. She also set her school pole vaulting record just before the accident on April 28.

In the days following the accident, her family wasn't sure Courtney would live.

"It's every parent's worst nightmare to know your child has been hurt critically, severely, their life is on the line,” said Dottie Brinckman, Courtney’s mother.

Sunday, Courtney walked across the stage as a high school graduate.

"I'm so surprised, I've only been out of a coma for three weeks now, and it's just amazing how far I've come,” said Courtney on Sunday.

The traumatic brain injury is the reason she still wears a helmet over her head.

When her brain was swelling after the accident on April 28th, doctors had to give it room to expand. They performed a decompressive craniectomy that took off a section of her skull.

Courtney was in a coma, but slowly made progress with the help of doctors and physical therapy.

"Every day she just did something a little more, and she just started coming around more and more," says Courtney's mother Dottie.

Her doctors say she's made terrific progress.

"They're pretty surprised that I'm alive,” said Courtney of her doctors. “But they're really surprised I'm progressing so quickly," she said.

Sunday marked a chance for celebration. After four years of perfect grades and a record-setting career on the track team, she joined her classmates for the graduation ceremony.

"Happiest day of our lives, we're thrilled that she's here, everybody cannot believe how fast she's recovering,” said Phillip Brinckman, her father.

Courtney is still dealing with some issues. She can’t smell or taste anything. And on part of her head, only skin covers her brain. She’ll have surgery to re-attach that part of her skull on June 24th, and afterwards she won't have to wear the helmet.

As for college? Courtney says she plans to attend Indiana University in the fall.

"I'm thinking I've only been awake for three weeks now and I've made this much progress, Im thinking in a couple of months I'll be just fine, back to my normal self," she said.