SALEM — Samantha Mattei is better, but not all better.
It has been six months since the 19-year-old was seriously injured in an MBTA trolley crash. She is still dealing with the mental and physical after effects of the accident that left her with a concussion and two herniated discs.
She walks with a cane.
She takes painkillers for her back.
She has bouts of vertigo.
Mattei, the daughter of Fred and Cecile Mattei, was among the dozens who went to the hospital following the Friday night, May 8, accident in the tunnel between Government Center and Park Street. Police said an MBTA driver was sending a text message on his cell phone when the Green Line car he was driving rear-ended another T car.
The good news for Mattei — and there is a lot of good news — is that the dean's list student returned to Merrimack College this fall for her sophomore year. She is not able to take a full course load, but she is doing well in the difficult courses she is taking: organic chemistry, Physics 1 and Introduction to Psychology.
"My lowest grade is a B-," she said.
Due to memory and attention issues, Mattei is given extra time on tests. She needs the time, she said.
"When I'm putting thoughts to paper, it takes me time to order stuff," she said.
She suffers from what doctors term "post-concussion syndrome." Her head was thrown against a post or seat inside the trolley, leaving her with a gash over her left eye that took five stitches to close. In the days following the crash, she had headaches, dizziness and trouble speaking.
"I went to speech therapy for eight weeks," she said. "I still have issues. I stutter every now and then if I'm very tired or stressed."