The large community of military veterans in Brevard County now has a new cutting-edge resource for treating post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Rosengren Trauma Clinic at UCF RESTORES, which launched on UCF’s campus in 2011 with a unique approach to treating PTSD, has opened another clinic in Brevard County. The UCF RESTORES Brevard PTSD Clinic is now open at UCF’s regional campus in Cocoa at Eastern Florida State College.
“Brevard County has the fourth largest veteran population in the state of Florida. We’ve had patients from Brevard travel to us in Orlando for treatment, but we know that’s not possible for everyone. We’re happy to be able to expand our services to meet the needs of this population,” said Deborah Beidel, founder and director of UCF RESTORES and a Pegasus Professor of psychology.
Brevard County has more than 65,400 veterans, according to the U.S. Census. In the clinic’s first year, Beidel estimates the new center could treat up to 100 patients. Treatment is free, thanks to state funding and community support of the clinic. Most recently, RESTORES celebrated a $1 million donation from veteran and alumnus Jim Rosengren and his wife, Julia, whom the clinic is named after. They were inspired to donate to the clinic after their son received help with his PTSD that developed after two tours in Iraq.
RESTORES combines exposure therapy and group therapy sessions to treat patients in an intensive, three-week outpatient format. Through virtual reality, patients are exposed to triggers that have contributed to their PTSD. It follows the simple theory that in order to get over a fear of dogs, one must be around a dog, said Beidel. The group-therapy portion of treatment includes sessions on anger management, depression, sleep hygiene and more.
Research out of RESTORES has found that this approach to treatment is highly effective. Of the first 100 patients treated in the intensive outpatient program, 66 percent of them were PTSD-free at the end of treatment and only 2 percent of patients dropped out, compared to a 28 percent average dropout rate of more standard approaches to treatment used at places like the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Since its launch, RESTORES has treated more than 450 veterans and active-duty personnel from all conflicts, military and civilian sexual trauma, and has expanded to also treat first responders from 20 states and survivors of mass shootings, including at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The clinic in Brevard will also offer these expanded services, including treating first responders and civilians who have suffered other traumas such as sexual assault.
Next, RESTORES will expand out of state. Thanks to a $10 million grant from the Department of Defense Joint Warfighters Advance Development Program, the clinic will establish its treatment program at three military bases to treat active-duty personnel on site.