Home' Navy News : August 1st 2013 Contents 9
August 1, 2013 www.defence.gov.au/news/NAVYNEWS
TWO sailors know first-hand just how
the IRT can provide help when it's
When LS Daniel McKinley crashed
his motorcycle earlier this year and
sustained severe injuries including
broken bones he thought his career
The accident put LS McKinley in
hospital for five weeks, where he wor-
ried about his future while receiving
treatment for injuries including a bro-
ken leg, ankle, arm and hand.
"The accident was quite serious
and my injuries quite severe, but I
have landed in a bit of a safety-net
in the form of the IRT program at
Holsworthy," he said.
LS McKinley's rehab with the IRT
is only in its third week but he said he
felt good about the treatment he had
received so far.
"The IRT has been great because
they have such a vast array of experts
and facilities here," he said.
"I come here three to four days a
week for rehab, which includes hydro-
therapy, occupational therapy and doc-
His partner, Alexandra Matriovich,
said she was grateful for the treatment
and care provided.
"If not for this facility then it would
be absolutely impossible, because I
have my own work commitments and
have recently had surgery myself, so I
would not be able to provide the care
and treatment that Dan needs," she said.
"It is always the partners and the
families who appreciate the help as
well, because otherwise the burden
falls on us."
LS McKinley, who can now walk
slowly with the aid of crutches, said
his recovery was aided by the IRT's
variety of specialists.
"The IRT is a one-stop shop where
I get treatment from a multidiscipli-
nary team of medical professionals,"
"In the 10 years I have served in
the ADF, rehab has never been set up
so efficiently as it is now with the IRT.
"Defence always says that 'people
matter' and it's times like this that they
prove it best."
ABET Warren Egan, of HMAS
Kuttabul, also credits his recovery to
the IRT's multidisciplinary approach.
Three months ago AB Egan was
sinking into a deep depression. "Since
coming to the IRT at Holsworthy, my
condition has improved remarkably
as a result of the treatment I have
received from multiclinical special-
ists," he said.
AB Egan said doctors told him his
condition was probably related to a few
head injuries he had received, includ-
ing a major car accident 20 years ago.
"If you had known me three-
months ago, before coming here, you
would not have thought there was
much hope for me," he said.
"If they didn't have this facility
with the experts and specialists then I
would still be in a very bad way, slur-
ring my speech and suffering from
He said the IRT specialists assessed
him mentally and physically to
develop a rehabilitation program that
has improved his concentration, com-
prehension, speech, mood and physical
"My advice to other sailors suffering
depression and injury is that they should
come here for treatment from these spe-
cialists, so that they can recover and get
back to work quickly," AB Egan said.
Personnel will benefit from a dedicated team
of specialists under a new rehabilitation
project, Michael Brooke reports.
PERSONNEL with complex
rehabilitation needs are receiv-
ing intensive, individually-
tailored rehabilitation from
intensive rehabilitation teams (IRTs)
under a pilot project under way in
Sydney and Townsville.
The multidisciplinary team of
medical professionals makes the pilot
program unique and optimises recov-
ery to enable wounded, ill or injured
personnel to return to work.
Each team includes an experi-
enced medical practitioner, specialist
physiotherapist, occupational therapist,
exercise physiologist, mental health
clinician, rehabilitation consultant and
IRT therapies allow members to
live satisfying and meaningful lives as
they embark on their recovery.
The IRT pilot program, which start-
ed in February, was officially launched
by Defence Science and Personnel
Minister Warren Snowdon at Sydney's
Holsworthy Barracks on June 28.
It will operate at Holsworthy
Health Centre and Lavarack Western
Clinic until June 2014.
Mr Snowdon said the program
delivered a multidisciplinary team
approach to the clinical rehabilitation
of members in an outpatient setting.
"This multidisciplinary team col-
laborates to deliver a comprehensive
range of rehabilitation services to meet
a member's physical, mental health
and psycho-social needs," he said.
"The intent of the pilot program
is to maximise a member's convales-
IRTs have worked with 68 ADF
personnel and their families, whose
feedback will help shape the develop-
ment of the program.
The program acknowledges the
crucial support provided to a member
by his or her family during their recov-
ery, by involving them in rehabilitation
"Defence is singularly commit-
ted to the recovery of our wounded,
ill or injured personnel, and we are
building infrastructure and delivering
services to support their recovery," Mr
He said the evaluation of the pro-
gram will inform the next stage of the
IRT from July 2014.
Rehab gets even better
WHAT IS THE IRT?
THE IRT pilot program forms part of the
Simpson Assistance Program (SAP) and is
intended to fill a void between the special-
ist rehabilitation services available through
public and private partners and the general
restorative therapies available through
Joint Health Command has commit-
ted $1.7 million of SAP funding to the
implementation of the IRT and employed
14 APS clinicians. The objectives of the
Achieving intensive, comprehensive,
tailored and coordinated clinical rehabili-
tation programs for complex cases in the
Garrison Health outpatient setting
Providing a rehabilitation capability
targeted for and prioritised towards com-
Collaborating with command to achieve
comprehensive and coherent manage-
ment of complex cases and to achieve
the meaningful engagement with com-
plex cases during recovery.
The program's primary role is to provide an
intensive clinical rehabilitation capability for
members with complex rehabilitation needs
in a health region to optimise recovery.
It aims to achieve early intervention in
complex cases and, following a period of
intensive treatment, will transition cases to
standard occupational rehabilitation ser-
vices within the Regional Health Service.
Priority will be given to personnel who
will benefit most from the involvement of a
multidisciplinary team during their clinical
A key consideration in the type of
service provided by the IRT will be the
geographic location of the member.
Where necessary, the option of provid-
ing intensive bursts of IRT rehabilitation
through re-locating the member to La-
varack Health Centre or Holsworthy Health
Centre may be considered.
The IRT will become involved in a
member's care as early as possible follow-
ing the identification by a Garrison Health
medical officer that a member has complex
healthcare and rehabilitation needs. This
may be as early as the admission of a
member to a tertiary healthcare facility.
IT'S NOT THE END
PERSONNEL should think of the
IRT as a resource that can help
them get their careers back on
track after being wounded or sus-
taining serious injury, according to
clinical psychologist and IRT senior
mental health clinician David Said.
The IRT aims to improve recov-
ery times and get members back to
the job quicker.
Dr Said stressed that seeking
assistance for mental health issues
did not mean the end of a military
"Mental health disorders are
treatable and are not career-end-
ing," he said.
"Some of my patients have told
me after the treatment that it made
them a better soldier and a stronger
person because they learnt so much
from the experience."
He said personnel benefitted
from 20 years of evidence-based
treatments for post-traumatic stress
disorder (PTSD) and depression.
"We know now from evidence-
based best-practice that the major-
ity of people we treat for PTSD will
have significant improvement within
even a couple of months if they en-
gage in the treatment appropriately.
"The improvements in PTSD
treatment have been dramatic."
Dr Said treats a lot of ADF
personnel for depression, which
can often be the result of physical
injury that has inhibited a mem-
ber's quality of life, such as sports
"Injuries and depression often
go together, because being able to
do your job is a source of pride and
great importance to ADF person-
nel," he said.
"But we have evidence-based
treatments that have proven that
depression and PTSD are treatable."
Dr Said indicated that Defence
members were stepping forward to
ask for help.
"Defence members themselves
are the best method of break-
ing down stigma about seeking
treatment for mental health issues,
because they tell their mates they
got help and how beneficial it was
for their recovery."
Sailors reap the benefits
HELP AT HAND: Mr Snowdon chats with AB Jason O'Shea, left, and ABET Warren Egan during a visit to the
Holsworthy Barracks medical centre.
UP AND RUNNING: Defence Science and Personnel Minister Warren Snowdon officially launches the
intensive rehabilitation teams pilot program at Holsworthy Barracks medical centre. Photos: LAC David Said
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