Conflicts & War

Ukrainians who lost limbs receive bionic prosthetics at Lviv clinic

By Rostyslav Averchuk

Lviv, Ukraine, Mar 23 (EFE).- A rehabilitation clinic in Ukraine’s Lviv is being expanded to provide an additional 100 prosthetic limbs each month to civilians and soldiers injured in Russia’s invasion of the country.

Thousands of people are estimated to have lost their limbs either in combat or due to Russia’s attacks against civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.

“I look at the guys who already received their prostheses and can’t wait to finally be able to walk without crutches again,” Ivan, a Ukrainian soldier from Zhytomyr who lost his right leg in an explosion on the frontline in Luhansk some 3 months ago, told Efe He will have his first prosthesis installed soon, thanks to a new workshop that has opened in the Unbroken rehabilitation center in Lviv, which is based in the city’s emergency hospital.

The ceremony to mark the expansion of the center, which was attended by Lviv mayor Andriy Sadovyi, was interrupted by a nation-wide air alert signaling the threat of Russian missile strikes but was able to go ahead given its location in the hospital basement.

“The workshop will enable us to install up to 100 additional limb prostheses every month,” Iryna Zaslavets, director of Unbroken, said, adding that this was equal to the total number of prostheses that the center has installed since last September.

The organizers have underlined the importance of providing aid to the victims of life-changing injuries within the country, where they can stay close to their families and have no language barrier.

“It is important for the soldiers to know that their state cares for them”, Zaslavets said.

Ukraine already had high-quality prosthetics specialists prior to Russia’s full-scale invasion last year but was not prepared for the huge influx of soldiers and civilians losing their limbs to mines, missiles, drones and artillery.

Vitaliy, a 23-year-old volunteer soldier from Ivano-Frankivsk, who lost his leg on the frontline in October and is expecting a prosthesis, told Efe that the cost of his treatment is being fully covered.

The expensive prosthetic limbs, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars, are covered by a mix of state and local funds combined with individual donations from corporate and charity sponsors.

Some of the components arrive from Germany yet each prosthesis has to be tailored individually with additional elements produced locally.

It can be a lengthy process that usually requires a more basic prosthetic limb to be installed first, followed by a more sophisticated bionic item.

Mykyta Baburkin from Vinnytsia demonstrated his bionic arm prostheses, which he can bend and use to hold tools by using nerve signals.

He chuckled as he shook the prosthetic hand of 13-year-old Dmytro from a village near Odesa. Dmytro, whose father joined the army, lost his arm as he was helping his mother manage with an agricultural machine.

While the prostheses will never be able to fully replace lost limbs they still help partially restore the ability to conduct everyday tasks, thus slightly decreasing the high cost of the Russian invasion for its victims.EFE


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