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Origami Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center

Friday, March 3, 2017  
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Mid-Michigan’s Brain Injury Experts

For Bill and Glyni Fenn, life took a very sudden and dramatic turn on the evening of July 7, 2010. Bill was a Physician Assistant, a veteran of the Air Force and was a professor at Western Michigan University for the Physician Assistant program. At the time, the couple had enjoyed 32 and a half years of marriage — soul mates as Glyni likes to say. They were enjoying their cottage on beautiful Torch Lake when Bill was injured in a fall. He was airlifted to Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, where Glyni was told it was uncertain if Bill would survive. Bill had suffered a traumatic brain injury or TBI.

Bill’s injuries were very severe. Glyni struggled finding medical facilities where Bill could receive the treatment he needed and where the couple could receive anything more than short-term insurance coverage. Medical personnel at many of the facilities to where Bill was transferred were frequently unable to recommend treatment options. After being treated at four different facilities and with seemingly little hope, Glyni learned that as a veteran of the Air Force, Bill was eligible for the Veterans Administration’s Assisted Living TBI Pilot Program. There are only 20 facilities in the nation that are allowed to accept patients under this program. One was Origami Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center, just south of Lansing.

Bill Fenn was admitted to Origami on February 14, 2011. Glyni said she knew immediately, it was just right for Bill.

Bill was able to benefit from working with the physical, occupational, speech and recreational therapists at Origami. There have been times in the past six years where he has plateaued, but those periods have always been followed by positive changes. It is unclear if Bill will ever be able to live at home, but his quality of life has improved greatly as a result of his stay at Origami.

“He is much more verbal than when he got here and he can articulate himself better,” said Glyni. “He asks questions, which he never used to do. He is much more dynamic. He laughs now and chuckles regularly.”

It is stories like Bill and Glyni’s that have served to motivate the professional team at Origami Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center since opening its doors in 1997. Origami’s executive director, Tammy Hannah says there is no recipe for treating brain injuries, as there are no two cases that are alike, which makes working with brain injury patients rewarding as well as challenging.

“Brain injury often takes a long time, sometimes it is lifelong, so you have to recognize those little steps or it can become discouraging,” said Hannah. “That’s the fun part. It is so individualized, challenging and rewarding."

Nestled on a beautiful 35-acre wooded campus in rural Mason, Origami is a nonprofit organization offering a continuum of care for individuals who have sustained a brain injury from mild to severe cases. Origami opened in April 1997 as the result of a creative alliance between Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine and Peckham, Inc. The two organizations recognized the need to have a comprehensive brain injury rehab center in Mid-Michigan. MSU provides medical expertise, including Origami’s medical director, on-call physician support and research. Peckham offers a connection to vocational rehabilitation as well as potential job opportunities. The two organizations comprise Origami’s eight member board of directors.

“You just don’t see a partnership between a brain injury rehab program, a top ten university like MSU and a national award-winning organization like Peckham,” said Hannah. “We are very fortunate to have their guidance and expertise as they are instrumental to Origami’s continued success and growth.”

Origami’s residential program focuses on maximizing independence in activities of daily living, enhanced quality of life, productivity and community inclusion. Neuro rehabilitation support is provided 24 hours per day in a home-like environment, with varying degrees of direct supervision provided based on individual needs. Origami also has an assisted living option in which private suites and program structure allow for opportunity to maintain or increase independent living skill levels based on individual need and care plan.

Origami also works with patients on an outpatient basis as well as in the community which fosters the use of retrained skills learned during treatment and discovering new ways of completing these skills within a least restrictive environment.

Origami’s 101-member team includes a full range of professional disciplines that work in teams to
provide a customized program for each patient. The approach used by the professional team is aimed at getting patients back into the community and performing functions like driving, walking and getting back to work. Among multiple services on the campus are a driving simulator (better than a video game!) and a fully-equipped therapy gym. Origami strives to create an environment that is safe, comfortable, personal and engaging.

“Origami’s team, services and environment facilitate our ability to meet people where they are at in
their rehab journey,” said Hannah. “We can take an individual case and look at the real life experiences that lead to great outcomes.”

One of the most important components in the treatment approach according to Hannah is integrating the family into the process.

“Certainly our treatment is centered around the patient, but you have to involve the support system,” said Hannah. “They are going to be with that person long after Origami is out of the picture. Our job is to provide education and support them the best we can.”

The new assisted living center features a six-bed residence including 6,000-square-feet of private,
home-style space allowing for increased independence in the residential program.

In 2016, Origami completed a $3.5 million project which represented phase one of a five-phase expansion plan. In April, Origami opened the doors to the Assisted Living track of their residential program. The new six-bed residence features 6,000-square-feet of private, home-style space allowing for increased independence in the residential program. In June, Origami moved into the newly expanded clinic featuring an advanced therapy gym and therapeutic space.

“The expansion allows us to further advance as Mid-Michigan’s leading expert in brain injury,” said Yvonne Fleener, business development manager of Origami. “In addition to serving individuals with brain injuries, Origami contributes to the growth and sustainability of the Mid-Michigan area.”

Origami is marking its 20th anniversary by inviting the public to its campus. On March 14, Origami will host the Chamber’s Member Mixer from 5:00 p.m to 7:00 p.m. On April 18, Origami is inviting the general public to attend its 20th anniversary celebration which will include a groundbreaking for phase two of the master plan from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. That project, which will be completed in November, will relocate parking lots now in the heart of the campus and build additional green space and walking paths creating a naturally enriching therapeutic environment.

Continued growth is part of the master plan over the next ten years at Origami. Hannah says the organization is on a mission to be able to reach more patients who may not currently be able to take advantage of their services.

“Our goal is to serve anyone with a brain injury regardless of their circumstance,” said Hannah. “As a nonprofit organization, it is important for us to make that commitment.”

For more information on employment, volunteering, serving or donating to Origami Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center, call 517-336-6060 or visit

Click here to download the March issue of FOCUS.

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