Mankato man recovering after severe brain injury

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MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — A former Minnesota State University linebacker who was gravely injured in a confrontation in a downtown nightlife district last spring says he's getting better day by day.

Isaac Kolstad was punched and kicked in the head during a fight with former University of Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson and another man, after Nelson mistook Kolstad for a bouncer who had flirted with his girlfriend, according to Mankato police. Witnesses told police that the other man, Trevor Shelley of St. Peter, knocked Kolstad out and that Kolstad's head hit the pavement as he fell to the ground.

Kolstad suffered from a severe brain injury that required emergency surgery and left him in a medically induced coma. Doctors once feared he wouldn't live. But he spent months recovering at Mayo Clinic and a specialized rehab facility in the Twin Cities. Seven months later, he's back at his Mankato home and attending outpatient therapy three days a week.

"I can feel myself getting better through therapy. That is my favorite part," Kolstad told reporters on Wednesday, his 25th birthday.

With family support, Kolstad is steadily regaining his strength, he is able to walk, run and form complete sentences.

"Today is definitely the biggest blessing we could ever ask for," Kolstad's wife, Molly, said. "There was a point where we didn't think we would have any more birthdays, and to be able to be able to have one today is amazing."

Kolstad hopes to eventually return to work at Fastenal, where he worked as a sales representative before the incident.

Nelson and Shelley face assault charges and are awaiting trial dates. Nelson's attorney, Jim Fleming, has asked that the charges against his client be dropped. Fleming says Nelson didn't cause Kolstad great bodily harm.

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