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Billings Rehabilitation Hospital teams with patient on brain injury support group

Kelsey Hansen.JPG
Posted at 11:18 PM, Mar 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-16 07:59:11-04

BILLINGS - A rehab center on the Billings West End is introducing a new support group that helps patients cope with brain injuries and recovery.

It's the first brain injury support group in the city in a few years.

People recovering from traumatic brain injury go through a lot of challenges at the Rehabilitation Hospital Of Montana.

One of those patients put together a group that offers support and hope.

"Kelsey, you're very amazing and just so glad that we can partner with you," said Jennifer Graves, the hospital's C.E.O.

The hospital announced a new group during Brain Injury Awareness Month.

Kelsey Hansen has spent a lot of time in hospitals after her injury 11 years ago.

"2012 is when I fell from my horse and I endured a skull fracture and multiple brain bleeds. a spinal cord injury," Hansen said.

Specialists help her and other patients with several types of therapy,

"Speech, but also physical therapy and occupational therapy," said Stacey McKeon, a speech-language pathologist at the hospital. "We're really working to improve patient function as close as we can, back to their baseline in the time that we have them here."

"Someone deals with an injury like a brain injury, a lot of times their life gets turned upside down," said John Bigart, Brain Injury Alliance Of Montana executive director. "They don't completely understand what's going through, how recovery can be very different for everyone."

Hansen has experienced that and knows others recovering from traumatic brain injuries also need more, so she formed a support group in November called "Billings Brain Injuries - Rewired."

"The reason why I called my group "rewired" is I heard a word called neuroplasticity and that is that your brain can change," Hansen said. "It's rewired. We can rewire, you know. A long time ago, we didn't think that could happen, but it can. That's always giving me hope."

And there is a shortage of support groups for brain injury patients in Montana. And Hansen's group fills a void in Billings.

"There's a gentleman that he's longtime Billings resident, his name is Ian Elliot," said Bigart. "He used to have a support group here and unfortunately passed away. And so it's super cool to see Kelsey just picking up and taking this away."

A big part of her recovery and rehabilitation has been her daughter and the support group.

"This has helped me focus on something, starting a support group and I keep myself busy," Hansen said. "I have a beautiful four-year-old daughter and she is a busybody and so I'm pretty busy."