Rehabilitating the mental, physical scars war in Ukraine
By Marcel Gascón
Kyiv, Mar 3 (EFE).- An army of civil servants and volunteers dedicate their time each day to the physical and mental rehabilitation of Ukrainian soldiers scarred by the invasion.
The Lisova Poliana Veterans Mental Health and Rehabilitation Center, which operates under the health ministry, is a beacon in this national effort to treat soldiers suffering not only physically but from the acute psychological impacts of war.
“The most common cases are post-concussion syndrome, which occurs as a result of explosions. We also treat amputations and trauma to the central or peripheral nervous system,” Dmytro Khrystych, a physiotherapist at the center, told Efe.
Dima, as his colleagues know him, is a key cog in the operation comprising around a hundred doctors, therapists, psychologists and volunteers.
Yurii Nechynskyi, one of Dima’s patients, was living in New York when Russia launched its full-scale invasion of his native Ukraine. The former soldier decided to return to fight.
He was put in charge of a unit of 110 men. By December, he was seriously injured.
“A rocket from a Uragan missile launcher burst through the two walls of the building we were in and I was injured by shrapnel,” Yurii said while engaged in some physiotherapy.
“My leg was broken, my arm was completely twisted and I had metal fragments embedded in my head,” he added.
A power bank cellphone charger in the outer pocket of his fleece blocked a fragment of metal from potentially hitting his torso and vital organs, saving his life, he said.
The center offers more than physical treatment to the soldiers.
Oleksii Antonyuk, a famed hairdresser, has gathered a team to provide haircuts to the injured soldiers.
“When they ask for us, we go,” Antonyuk said, adding that the experience has taught him about the high price that the country is paying to resist Russia’s invasion.
Some of the soldiers at the center take part in the weekly exercise therapy classes put on by ballerina and Feldenkrais Method teacher Larissa Babij.
“It works for people with a varying degree of injury,” Babij said of the Feldenkrais Method approach to recovery, an alternative medical practice that aims to boost the connections between the physical body and the brain.
The Lisova Poliana was in operation decades ago, when it offered rehabilitation to soldiers injured in the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It renewed its mission in 2014 in the wake of the pro-Russian uprising and subsequent war in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
The number of patients doubled again following Russia’s full-scale invasion last year.
Since Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022. EFE