Marcel Gascon |
Kiev (EFE).- Thousands of civil servants and volunteers work daily in the Ukraine in the physical and emotional rehabilitation of the soldiers wounded, mutilated or severely traumatized by the constant explosions and the impact of shrapnel.
One of the pillars of this national mobilization is the Center for Mental Health and Rehabilitation of Veterans Lisova Poliana, which belongs to the Ministry of Health, is located on the outskirts of Kiev and treats hundreds of soldiers with serious injuries or sequelae.
“The most common cases are post-concussion syndrome that occurs as a consequence of the explosions. We also treat amputations and traumatic damage to the central or peripheral nervous system,” Dmytro Khrystych, one of the center’s physiotherapists, told Efe.
Dima, as everyone knows him, is a key piece in this framework made up of a hundred doctors, therapists, psychologists and professionals from other disciplines, as well as many other specialists who offer their services free of charge to help wounded soldiers.
Serious shrapnel wounds
Yurii Nechynskyi is one of Dima’s patients. Nechynskyi lived in New York with his family until Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, when this former professional soldier decided to return home to enlist in the army, where he commanded a 110-man unit.
He was seriously injured in December. “A projectile from a Huracán rocket launcher went through two walls of the building we were in and I was hit by shrapnel,” Yurii recalls while exercising.
Saved by an external battery
“He broke my leg, completely sprained my arm and had shrapnel embedded in my head,” says the Ukrainian from Uman, a town 200 kilometers south of Kiev.
At the time of the explosion, Nechynskyi was carrying an external cell phone battery in his fleece pocket. “The ‘power bank’ saved my life”, he says excited and amused when explaining how the device stopped a fragment of shrapnel that would have hit his vital organs.
From refugee in Murcia to volunteer in kyiv
Kateryna Bovan studies Physical Education and comes as a volunteer to the center, where she gives recovery sessions for the abdominal and lumbar muscles, those of the pelvis and those that surround the spine, as well as for “shoulder and back mobility”.
Kateryna arrived as a refugee in Spain with her sister in March 2022. They both spent three months in the town of San Pedro, in Murcia, where the two young women learned enough Spanish to communicate before returning to Kiev in June to contribute from here to the Ukrainian cause.
“The Army of Beauty”
In the Lisova Poliana center there is also an improvised hairdressing salon. It is an initiative of Oleksii Antonyuk, a famous Ukrainian hairdresser who has mobilized his colleagues to go to cut the hair of wounded soldiers.
“We have a Telegram group in which we communicate the needs that are emerging,” says Antonyuk, who has called the group the “Army of Beauty”.
“When we are asked, we go,” explains Antonyuk, whose experience is helping to make him aware of the high price his country is paying for resisting Russian aggression.
Antonyuk is convinced that Ukraine will win this war, but calls on Western countries to send weapons “quickly” to speed the path to victory and stop the flow of wounded and maimed.
Feldenkrais method and acupuncture
Some of these disabled soldiers participate in the weekly class of the writer, dancer and teacher of the Feldenkrais Method Larissa Babij. “It works with people with very different degrees of trauma,” Babij says of this practice that seeks to improve individual awareness of the body through movement.
This practice, explains the professor, not only helps severely traumatized soldiers relax. It also helps them regain sleep, walk again, and speak fluently after disruptions caused by trauma.
From the war in Afghanistan to the Russian invasions
The Lisova Poliana center treated Soviet veterans of the Afghanistan war for decades, and renewed its mission in 2014, when Russian-led separatist militias declared independence for two regions of eastern Ukraine and the war in Donbas broke out.
The large-scale invasion of Ukraine launched by Russia in February of last year doubled the number of inmates, but those who work in Lisova Poliana insist on remembering that the Russian military aggression began in 2014 with the mutilation of Donbas and the annexation of Crimea.
Ukrainians, they stress, have been dying at the front for almost a decade.