Living Its Mission Through Expanding Community Programs
The depth and breadth of Brooks Rehabilitation’s community programs are unique from any other health system – rehabilitation or acute – in the country. From Adaptive Sports to the Aphasia Center to the Brain Injury Clubhouse – and much more in between – these programs provide a variety of health and wellness options that promote the physical, social and emotional well-being of those with differing abilities. Through generous partners, supporters and volunteers, Brooks removes barriers to participation by offering all our programs at little or no cost for participants of all ages and backgrounds.
Amanda Osborne, PT, MBA, is Vice President of Operations and Administrator for the Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital – University Campus. With more than 20 years at Brooks, Osborne has served as the leader for these community programs for the past 12 years.
“The really great thing about our community programs is they all started the same way, which is, they are all what I call grassroot programs,” said Osborne. “They were ideas from frontline Brooks staff who saw a gap in our offerings. For example, Adaptive Sports and Recreation was the brainchild of Alice Krauss. Krauss, who at the time served as an occupational therapist at Brooks Hospital. She would help her patients as much as possible during their hospital stay, but after discharge, Alice found some patients would go home, sit on their couch, get depressed, with no exercise or social interaction. It was the start of a downward spiral. Alice went to the executive team and said, ‘We, as an organization have to do better.’ That’s how Adaptive Sports started, and Alice has been managing the program for the past 15 years.”
Another example is the Brooks’ Wellness Programs, which are held with local YMCAs. These were initially intended for stroke wellness. Dr. Trevor Paris, currently the Brooks system’s chief medical officer, was at the time the stroke medical director for Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital – University Campus. He kept seeing patients come back with second strokes. The Wellness Programs were set up to help stroke patients continue to exercise and eat correctly. Now expanded to many neurological diseases or injuries, participants receive an assessment and a customized fitness plan, all supervised by a
Brooks encourages the continued brainstorming for programs with a crowdsourcing initiative. Every other year, Brooks personnel submit ideas, from which a top ten will be presented to all Brooks managers and above. They will vote on which ones they think Brooks should explore. The winners are then given seed money to research and investigate in a proof-of-concept manner to see if they should go further. Brooks’ highly successful Aphasia Center, one of only a few like it in the nation, and Helen’s House, a hospitality house for affordable temporary lodging for Brooks patients and caregivers, both got their start through crowdsourcing.
Another unique characteristic of Brooks’ community programs is that there doesn’t have to be any current or prior association with Brooks to participate. And, as mentioned above, participants pay little, or usually nothing, to get involved. While this brings in large numbers of locals into the picture, it is becoming more common for families to move to the Jacksonville area so their loved ones of differing abilities can take part in the offerings.
“Whenever I’m asked, ‘What do you like best about Brooks?’ I’ll say it’s because of what we do in our community programs – it’s where we live our Mission,” said Osborne. “Not that we don’t live it in the operations side, too. We do, every day. But it’s really clear in the community program side. I think it’s important for people to understand how much talent, time and money go into these programs. It’s hard to know all the community programs we offer because there are so many. In my eyes, that is what truly differentiates Brooks.”
Some highlights include:
- Brooks employees donate nearly $150,000 annually to provide support (DME, services, ramps, medication, etc.) to individuals with differing abilities.
- Brooks provides quality of life surveys to determine if a participant’s quality of life is improving with involvement in Brooks-funded activities.
- 610 participants served in Jacksonville and Daytona
- 12 unique visits per individual
Brooks Rehabilitation offers one of the most comprehensive and diverse adaptive sports and recreation programs in the country, providing fun, fitness and friendship to people of all ages living with various disabilities. Our program offers the opportunity to participate in activities that provide social connection and physical activity, the two most important elements of a healthy lifestyle. Program participants may enjoy recreational or competitive team and individual sports and recreational activities at no charge with all equipment, coaching and limited bus transportation provided by Brooks.
As a community-based health promotion program open to anyone, not just Brooks patients, it gives us an opportunity to truly serve and impact the health of our entire community. Brooks is a lifelong resource for individuals living with disability who want to maintain their physical, social and emotional health and quality of life.
“One night the Adaptive Sports and Recreation spigot opened, and has continued flooding me with more friendship, support and encouragement than I could have ever expected. Participation has helped me see things in a new way and the friends I have made helped me to return to some semblance of a social life.” – Bob Kuhn
- 60 total participants served with 36 visits per unique individual
- 11 Intensive Comprehensive Aphasia Program (ICAP) participants
The Aphasia Center provides comprehensive support for participants affected by aphasia due to stroke, traumatic brain injury, brain tumors or other neurological disorders. One of the only aphasia centers of this kind in the U.S., it is dedicated to helping people with aphasia and their families through language and social groups, communication partner training, on-line Zoom groups and communication partner support groups. It leverages the latest research and recovery options – in both individual and group settings to provide opportunities to enrich communication skills.
The Aphasia Center offers two programs, including a community track and a six-week intensive, comprehensive aphasia program (ICAP). The Aphasia Center can help
both people with aphasia and their families along their entire recovery journey – building friendships, learning and improving their communication skills and training families to help re-engage in life.
“Brooks Aphasia gave me new friends, new words and hope!” – Joy
“I love my new friends. I am talking and thinking better. So much happier. Getting better every day. The Aphasia Center really changed me.” – Jose
- 50 unique individuals served
- 4 paid and 23 volunteer job placements
The Brain Injury Clubhouse provides for the long-term recovery needs of individuals who have suffered an acquired brain injury. This day program bridges the gap between medical rehabilitation, vocational training and community reintegration. It is currently the only Brain Injury Clubhouse in Florida and one of only 17 in the world.
Brooks is the only rehabilitation system of care in the U.S. that provides lifetime access to a recovery-enhancing program for individuals with a brain injury at an affordable daily rate. The Brooks Clubhouse helps individuals regain social, physical, cognitive and vocational abilities. Not only do members choose to participate in a variety of different activities, (e.g., personal fitness, yoga, aquatics, music, arts and crafts, community outings, etc.), but they also have the opportunity to manage clubhouse operations by joining one of three work units, helping them reestablish themselves in the community and, when possible, return to work.
“The Brooks Clubhouse has changed my life. Prior to coming to the Clubhouse; I was isolated, lonely, bored and depressed. The Clubhouse is the only place I feel accepted, normal and appreciated. It is my home away from home and I look forward to going there every day. It is a place I can go that provides friendship, socialization, support and meaningful productive activity. The Clubhouse has been a lifesaving blessing to me.” – Dreal Holland
For more information, call (904) 674-6400.
- 1,172 research participants in active studies
- 1,180 participant visits to the research center
- 41 active studies
- 11 new studies
- 15 completed studies
- 5 national webinars hosted
- 157 individuals involved in conducting research
The Clinical Research Center is devoted to generating new knowledge and integrating the latest research discoveries that improve patient outcomes and quality of life into clinical practice. We offer patients and other community members the opportunity to participate in innovative research studies that are focused on expanding the knowledge and science of recovery.
One of Brooks’ main partnerships is with the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions (UF-PHHP). Although our two organizations carried on research activities together for years, a common vision to advance clinical rehabilitation led to the creation of a formal partnership in 2013. Merging the strengths of a major academic research institution with those of a comprehensive rehabilitation system serving a large, diverse patient population is a rare, but powerful, combination; a driving force in our research today. The Collaboration to date has generated more than 100 publications and over $11 million in grant funds.
- 210 individuals served from 21 cities and 13 counties across Florida and Georgia
- Contributed to 9 research investigations and clinical trials, as well as two scientific papers reporting Brooks research outcomes
The Brooks Motion Analysis Center (MAC) is a specialized clinical and research assessment facility focused on walking and movement impairments in people of all ages. The expert team includes physical therapists and engineers dedicated to advancing science and recovery. Their specialized programs focus on standing and walking impairments.
The MAC combine the use of innovative technology with expert clinical examination and biomechanical analysis to quantify muscle activity, joint motions and forces during movement. The result of this process is quantitative data to guide and advance clinical care. In addition to clinical and scientific programs, the MAC also works with athletes to prevent injury and guide safe return to sport after injury. The Brooks MAC is the only clinical and research facility of its kind in Florida, serving children and adults, dedicated to the advancement of rehabilitation.
- 370 individuals served; 263 in Jacksonville and 107 in Orange Park
The Neuro Recovery Centers (NRC) offer specialized equipment for customized rehabilitation during and after formal therapy. NRCs provide several different services including outpatient physical therapy, aquatic therapy, assistive technology and a wheelchair clinic. They also have an independent subscriber program for patients outside of insurance limitations. This allows individuals with disabilities to continue ongoing exercise and conditioning to maintain and improve functional movement and abilities.
Physical therapists work alongside exercise physiologists, personal trainers and rehab technicians to ensure quality care for outpatient therapy patients as well as community independent gym members. Incorporating advanced rehabilitation technologies into everyday treatment allows the team to have an innovative approach to every patient’s care.
Beyond the innovative technologies, the culture within the NRC makes it truly unique. They are a community of patients, caregivers, family, friends and staff that support and care for one another at some of the hardest points in an individual’s life.
“I’ve been a patient at Brooks for eight years now. I’m a C4 quad with no movement below the shoulders. During my time at the NRC, I’ve gotten to know many people that I call friends, even family. The staff has taken the time to go out of their way to make sure I have everything I need. I don’t know what I would’ve done in the past eight years without the friendship, family and service of the Brooks NRC. I am forever grateful.” – Chad Smith
- 193 individuals served
- Developed and implemented 2 new programs
Pediatric Recreation is a free program that provides a safe and supportive environment for youth with physical and/or developmental disabilities so they can engage in recreational activities with their peers. It offers both sport and recreation programs year round, focusing on social connection, family empowerment and community integration.
The Pediatric Recreation Program offers play, sport and recreation activities specifically designed with children/youth in mind. Activities are available at various times of the day/week to complement a child’s schedule. Families are encouraged to participate alongside their child in a variety of weekly classes, monthly activities and family friendly special events. All activities are provided free of charge to children and their families, to promote access to services and encourage participation.
The Brooks Pediatric Recreation Program serves any child, from birth to 17 years old, with any type of limitation/disability (physical, developmental, cognitive, sensory, and social).
“As a family we are so thankful that our son has the opportunity to play a sport on an even playing field. He absolutely loves ice hockey and his amazing coach. He has learned so much about the sport and always counts down the days for the new season to start.” – The Alvarez Family
- 124 individuals served (66 inpatient and 58 outpatient) from 39 different school districts
Brooks believes a child’s education is an integral part of their rehabilitation. With this in mind, for more than 30 years, the Brooks School Re-entry Program (BSRP) has provided a continuum of school transition and support services to assist families throughout a child’s educational journey. BSRP serves individuals from birth through college from any Brooks division or location.
The team of school re-entry specialists serve as liaisons, working closely and tirelessly with the patient, family, school and medical team to ensure the best possible educational outcome for each individual. Whether referring a toddler for early intervention services, helping a college student obtain accommodations, or anything in between, BSRP provides a customized approach to each patient.
BSRP services are completely free and available to patients at any point in their educational journey. This means that weeks, months or even years down the road, families can contact BSRP if they need assistance.
“Yesterday, C. signed up for school with Hospital Homebound. After the accident, C. was unsure of what life would look like for him. After speaking with you (BSRP) and the public schools, C. n ow is full of hope and excitement to be a senior this year. This program is structured to his needs. This was needed and very helpful. C. and I are truly thankful. Thank you for your help.” – Parent of Brooks patient
- 254 individuals served; 200 Jacksonville and 54 in Daytona
- 12,800 total visits; 10,000 Jacksonville and 2,800 in Daytona
Experts from Brooks Rehabilitation have teamed up with local YMCAs of Florida to offer an individualized and supervised exercise program for Stroke and Brain Injury survivors, as well as those battling Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis. The Adaptive Community Wellness Programs allow participants to stay active and continue to improve their health after completing formal physical therapy. The program also fosters a social support system between participants who understand the challenges faced with a neurological diagnosis.
Following an initial evaluation with a Brooks physical therapist at the closest outpatient location, an individualized and adaptive exercise program will be developed for each participant. During the initial orientation, the participant and staff will create personal goals that can be achieved through exercise. Programs are hosted at a local YMCA and supervised by specialized staff that understands the unique challenges of a life-altering disease or injury.
“The Wellness Program has been such a great help to me. When asked how I got so strong after my injury, I always attribute it to the great care Brooks has provided and the continuous support in this program. The staff here help me immensely. I also love the small group classes, especially balance and boxing.” – Mike Uzunov