Hollywood’s leading trauma program attracts nationwide interest
Jul 03, 2019
Hollywood Private Hospital has one of the best trauma programs in the country - so good in fact that many patients have flown from the Eastern States to be treated.
Program coordinator and trauma expert, Doug Brewer, puts this success down to Hollywood's experience in this specialist field.
Hollywood first started treating returned veterans and Australian Defence Personnel for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 25 years ago but has since expanded to include trauma programs for emergency services staff and women.
According to Doug Brewer, a psychologist specialising in this area, PTSD can develop after one isolated traumatic event, or after repeated exposure to trauma.
“Post-traumatic stress disorder is a group of stress reactions that can develop after experiencing or even witnessing a traumatic event, such as an accident, an act of violence, loss or even from undergoing medical treatment,” he said.
PTSD has four groups of symptoms, which include re-experiencing the original trauma, avoiding reminders of the event, negative changes in thoughts and mood after the trauma, and feeling ‘on edge’ and overly aroused.
“It is not uncommon for someone with PTSD to experience panic attacks, a feeling of intense fear, with shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating, nausea and a racing heart,” Mr Brewer said.
“Physical symptoms can include chronic pain, headaches, stomach pain, diarrhea, tightness or burning in the chest, muscle cramps or lower back pain.”
Mr Brewer said a combination of PTSD symptoms often led to relationship and work problems and the disorder was often linked to depression, anxiety, anger and substance abuse.
“Our trauma programs teach people how to deal with painful thoughts and feelings associated with traumatic events in a safe environment.
“We also help patients manage their depression, anxiety, anger, alcohol and drug problems, and we provide them with advice and guidance on how to develop and improve relationships and enhance their quality of life.”
The Hollywood Clinic’s trauma program for veterans and Australian Defence Personnel runs for 10 weeks, whereas the first responders course is a four week program and the women’s program is 12 weeks in duration. All three program are day programs.
Mr Brewer said the first responders program had been running at capacity since it started in 2013.
“While the course is predominantly for first responders, there are many commonalities in the treatment of trauma, so this course sometimes has people from other industries too, including teachers, pilots, mine site workers and more,” he said.
The Hollywood Clinic is currently undergoing a major expansion that will see the establishment of a dedicated mental health day hospital and an additional 31 mental health inpatient beds.