Ukraine’s first spinal cord injury centre opened in Rivne: patients in wheelchairs are taught to control their bodies

8 March 2023
Ukrainian Cluster Alliance ECHAlliance

The Ukrainian Cluster Alliance is looking for innovative solutions for medicine – from production to medical services. The Resource Center “Medical Clusters” in the Ukrainian Cluster Alliance unites all medical clusters of Ukraine and those Clusters working in the medical field, which is 46 million consumers of medical services.

Patients are even taught so-called bladder and bowel management.

Soldiers who have suffered spinal cord and spinal cord injuries are being rehabilitated according to the European model of treatment at the first spinal cord injury centre in Ukraine in Rivne region. They are being worked on physically, prepared for life psychologically and even taught how to behave towards their families. Currently, our doctors and foreign doctors work together there.

Three months ago, 32-year-old Kostyantyn could only lie down. “At that time, I could only lie down and even be washed,” he recalls. He has been fighting for Ukraine against the occupants since 2019, and was wounded in the Great War near Bakhmut. “Machine gun to machine gun, I didn’t count on the fact that they had two machine gunners and when I was changing positions, I got shot, a flurry of bullets,” the soldier recalls. The fighter has a spinal injury and paralysed legs, so the centre helps him strengthen his muscles. “Here, these are the muscles of the arms, they have to control the rest of the body,” says the rehabilitation therapist.

A spinal injury is an injury to the spine and damage to the spinal cord, so it affects all body systems. Treatment and rehabilitation are long-term, doctors say. The patient’s ability to function depends on the severity of the injury… The first and most important thing in rehabilitation is what seems simple to healthy people – self-care. “It’s brushing your teeth, washing your face, going to the toilet, performing hygiene procedures, getting dressed, eating,” says physical therapist Ruslana Kukharevych.

The number of patients with spinal cord injuries is increasing due to the war. Thus, a specialised centre is being set up at the hospital in Rivne Oblast with the support of the World Health Organisation. “This is the first and largest centre that is fully funded by the medical guarantee programme, i.e. from the state budget,” the Ministry of Health says.

Currently, the facility has 100 beds, and the Ministry of Health says that similar facilities will soon be opened in other regions of Ukraine.

Kostya’s success proves the effectiveness of the methodology: he has risen from the floor to a chair for the first time, albeit with assistance. Knowing his perseverance, the doctors are confident that he will soon be able to do it himself. Kostyantyn wants to tell those who have similar injuries and may be despairing – there is a different, but also happy life ahead. “No matter how hard it is, you should know that there is light ahead, there will be light for sure,” the soldier says.

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Our Resource Center “Medical Clusters” of the Ukrainian Cluster Alliance unites all medical clusters of Ukraine (their members are hospitals, dentistry, medical universities, rehabilitation centers, health centers, etc.) and other clusters working in the medical field – from IT, equipment production, cosmetics , related products used in medicine and health care. This is a single window into the entire healthcare system of Ukraine.

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