Isaac Kolstad holds newborn daughter (PHOTO) - KMSP-TV

Isaac Kolstad holds newborn daughter during recovery from Mankato assault

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Isaac Kolstad continues to recover from a traumatic head injury suffered in a bar closing confrontation in Mankato, Minn. Kolstad’s wife, Molly, posted a photo on his CaringBridge page, showing the former Mavericks football player holding his newborn daughter, Malia.

“When Malia cries, he is the first to reach out and want to hold her and comfort her,” Molly Kolstad wrote in an update.

Kolstad, 24, is now able to walk a little bit with assistance from therapists and is strong enough to go outside. Family members say he is smiling, laughing and holding his one-month-old daughter close. All are positive signs that his rehab is heading in the right direction.

“In occupational therapy he continues to increase his participation in relearning daily living activities skills a little more each day,” the CaringBridge post said. “He is making gains in physical therapy. The main goal is still to get Isaac up and walking on his own and over the week he has increased his distance from 200 feet a session to 700+ feet in a session.”

Just two months ago, Kolstad was severely assaulted in downtown Mankato, and his prognosis was grave. Statistics predicted a 3 percent chance of survival, but the Kolstad family attorney, Ken White, told Fox 9 News the former football player's recovery is exceeding all expectations.

"It's certainly a miraculous improvement from where he started to where he is today," White said.

Former Gophers quarterback Philip Nelson, 20 and Trevor Shelley, 21, of St. Peter, are both facing first- and third-degree felony charges in connection with the May 11 assault.

Clinical neuropsychologist Erwin Concepcion treats those with severe brain injuries, and he says Kolstad's physical fitness prior to the injury could be helping his recovery.

"A lot of athletes have high levels of coordination beyond what normal people have, and some of them might serve better in terms of having other parts of the brain pick up some of the functions," Concepcion explained.

 Fortunately, Kolstad's family says he likely will not need any more brain surgeries now that the swelling has dramatically decreased.

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