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Pianist uses music to heal after brain injury

ST. PETER — Helen Baumgartner settled in to a cozy stuffed chair placed near sunny dining room windows and directly across from the Steinway and Baldwin she and her husband use to practice piano duets.
Paul Baumgartner was nearby Saturday morning as Helen happily shared their wonderful news — a physician’s all-clear to remain at home. Except for a few “day passes” to the couple’s St. Peter town house, Helen had been staying at a care facility in Le Center.
She is recovering from a skull fracture she suffered last month. Hennepin County Medical Center’s trauma unit treated Helen for cranial bleeding that resulted after a van knocked her down Dec. 9.
Helen remembers standing next to a parked car on Third Street in St. Peter and seeing headlights coming toward her. “Then I must have blacked out.”
Friday she met with a neurologist in Minneapolis who was pleased with the prognosis and said no follow-up visits were necessary.
Several months before Helen’s injury, the Baumgartners had begun preparing for a series of public performances. They are faculty emeriti of the Department of Music at Gustavus Adolphus College.
Last year, they played at Montgomery Arts and Heritage Center, First Lutheran Church in Bemidji, Gustavus Adolphus College and the GSR Festival in Mankato.
An Arts Center of Saint Peter concert remained on their slate. After the accident, practicing for that show soon became part of Helen’s rehab.
“Both the physical and occupational therapists say this activity is good,” Helen said.

Article by Edie Schmierbach, posted on www.mankatofreepress.com