Community Bridges

Leading-edge brain injury treatment with caring professionals


For people recovering from a brain injury, the best treatment goes beyond office visits. It extends into the real world, helping people with brain injuries work toward independence in their daily lives. At the Rehabilitation Institute of Montana’s Community Bridges program, we take those extra steps to help our clients come as close as possible to the life they want to live.

Community Bridges provides programs for adults who have an acquired or traumatic brain injury. Traumatic brain injuries can happen when any jolt, bump or blow to the head causes damage to the brain. Millions of people each year receive traumatic brain injuries in car accidents, sports, combat zones, or something as simple as a fall. Brain injury can also happen from non-traumatic causes such as toxins, infections, drug overdose, diabetic coma and others. These injuries can have devastating effects on people’s lives.

No matter what the cause, each brain injury is unique and requires specialized professional care. Many people are treated at inpatient rehabilitation services, but the need for care often does not end there.  We offer our services to people who are recently discharged from an inpatient hospital setting, as well as people who live in the community, and want to achieve greater independence and freedom, no matter how long ago their brain injury occurred.

Why choose Community Bridges?
People and families who are searching for the best brain injury treatment need hard facts. Here are some reasons Community Bridges excels over other programs:

  • Expert staff - Our clinical staff includes expert professionals in nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, social work, and neuropsychology. These experts work as a team led by a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physician, Denise Allen, M.D.
  • Years of experience - Each of our staff members is licensed or certified in his or her professional area, and all are experienced at helping people with brain injuries. For example, our two occupational therapists have a total of 40 years experience between them and our two speech therapists have 30 years of combined experience. Our neuropsychologist has been practicing for more than 25 years.
  • Appropriate certifications - Community Bridges has been accredited by the Joint Commission since 1975 and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) since 1984.
  • Range of care. As part of Community Medical Center’s Rehabilitation Institute of Montana, Community Bridges can provide a continuum of care, starting with a smooth transition from inpatient rehabilitation. The client can go from inpatient to day treatment (comprehensive, all-day treatment with a team of professionals), or to outpatient services (individual sessions of a specific therapy, such as speech or occupational therapy) to fit their needs as they progress and achieve their goals. Other clients come to us from the community (with a referral from a doctor).
  • Treating the whole person - We recognize that brain injury can affect all parts of a person’s life, and we go beyond the usual scope of care to help. Our team takes a personal interest in each client and their family, often making home visits to help people put their therapies to work in the real world. For example, a staff member may take an entire bus route along with a client to make sure he or she is able to do it alone. We also coach caregivers on helping clients at home, as well as taking care of themselves in this demanding roll.
  • Outreach services - We work to help prevent brain injuries through programs such as our annual helmet giveaway at an Osprey baseball game and our trainings for care agencies.  We also make sure our clients and their families know about other services that can help them, such as:
  • Networking for the best care - Our team networks with other providers state-wide to share information about where to find specialized services such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy or neurofeedback therapy, and to keep current on research. We also work with Disabilities Services at the University of Montana to ensure that our clients who are also students get the help they need on campus.
  • State-wide reputation - Community Bridges is well known in Montana for its work advocating for brain injury treatment. Several of our staff have served in volunteer positions on the Montana Brain Injury Alliance's Board of Directors. Our efforts have contributed to better treatment of brain injuries, as well as changing attitudes toward brain injury in Montana.
  • Excellent outcomes - Statistics show that, while our clients often come to us with more impairment than the national average, on discharge they rank at or above the national averages for abilities, adjustments, and other criteria. Click here to see a graph of our outcomes. (See Chart 21 below)

Who do we serve?
The numbers tell an important story about our services. Last year we served 111 people, demonstrating excellent experience helping people with a variety of brain injuries. We’re also part of the oldest and most comprehensive rehabilitation program in Montana—Community Medical Center’s Rehabilitation Institute of Montana (RIM). Most of our clients (3 out of 4) come from western Montana. However, people also come from outside our region and even from other states to be treated by us.

Twenty-five of the people we helped last year came to our comprehensive day treatment program, where clients spend the day with our team of professionals. While the most common age for these clients last year was from 41 to 65 years old, we are expert at treating adults of any age.  Many of our clients are aged 18 to 40 and others are in their seventies.

For each of our clients, we understand that to serve them well, we must also serve the people who are important to them. These significant people—family members, close friends, or other caregivers—are essential for helping people with brain injuries move toward greater independence. We ask our clients to help us identify those who will be involved, and we will then include them in planning and implementing the client’s care. For example, family members or others may observe treatments, as well as participate in team conferences and in planning the client’s discharge. We can also train family members to help with therapies at home.

Community Bridges serves adults with brain injuries who meet certain conditions. To find out if you or someone you care about qualifies for treatment at Community Bridges, click here to view our admission criteria.

What can I expect in the program?
Clients at Community Bridges are first evaluated by our team to determine the best course of treatment. The team considers all aspects of the person’s condition, along with input from the client, his or her family, and other significant people. Together, we set treatment schedules and goals.

For some people, treatment may occur for full days, five days per week. Others may only participate for 3 hours per day on a 1 to 3 day per week schedule.  We also provide outpatient services that specifically target physical, occupational, and/or speech pathology goals tailored to the individual’s needs and availability.

Attending these appointments can seem intimidating at first. We do everything we can to put people at ease and resolve any difficulties. For example:

  • We understand cultural differences and work to make people of all races and ethnic backgrounds feel comfortable at our facility.
  • We provide special lighting for people who are sensitive to light, as well as white noise machines and anti-glare computer screens for people who get migraines.
  • Our remodeled lobby provides more privacy and seating for people of all shapes and sizes.
  • We help people fill out forms and train them to use iPads, iPods, and other technology.

Every two weeks the team meets to talk about progress and to make any necessary adjustments to the treatment plan. The team includes the client and his or her family—they are always considered in decision-making.

How well do our clients do?
Statistics show that our clients improve in every area that we target for treatment. That includes skills in independent living, self-reliance, social and recreational activities, and the level of care they need.  Our follow-up surveys also show that people who complete the day treatment process at our facility are able to maintain their gains and often continue to progress for 12 months after treatment ends. View the graphs below to see the details of these improvements, as assessed by the Mayo-Portland Adaptability Inventory.

The best evidence of our successes, though, may come from our clients and their families themselves. In client satisfaction surveys, in letters, phone calls and in person, they tell us how much we have helped them. One of our former clients summed it up like this: "You gave me my life back!"

Who do I contact for more information?
For more information, please contact our Admissions Coordinator at 406-327-4592 or by email at


 Chart 21: