Ukraine: MSF helps provide physiotherapy for people with war wounds

Doctors on Rails - MSF Medicalised train in Ukraine

Ukraine 2022 © Andrii Ovod/MSF

September 14, 2022—Teams from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) are helping provide physical rehabilitation to people suffering from traumatic injuries, including war wounds, at public hospitals in Kyiv and Vinnytsia.

As conflict continues, specialized physiotherapy is emerging as a major need in the country. Though the exact number is unknown, thousands of people injured in the war are believed to need physical rehabilitation in Ukraine, requiring a range of specific health services such as diagnosis, treatment, surgery, assistive devices, and physiotherapy.

Since July, MSF has been working in the Central Hospital of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kyiv and the Research Institute for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities in Vinnytsia, which respectively have 60 and 70 beds for patients with traumatic injuries. MSF physiotherapists are providing bedside training to the hospital staff, working with patients and contributing to the development of local skills at the same time.

"In Kyiv, it's a very big hospital where war-wounded patients arrive," said Diana Galindo, MSF medical coordinator. "They receive patients from the east and the south, where the first surgeries are done, and then they are sent to Kyiv to continue their care. We see that most of them are amputees, and they are presenting now with heavier handicaps than if they were treated properly with rehabilitation."

When high-quality physiotherapy is provided early enough, patients can avoid more severe disabilities such as permanently losing their mobility. However, physical rehabilitation is not a well-established sector of the Ukrainian health care system, and there aren't enough experienced and skilled specialists to meet the high level of need.

By working within Ukrainian hospitals, MSF is helping increase the local capacity to provide physical rehabilitation. In July and August, more than 110 patients received physical rehabilitation as part of MSF's collaboration with the two hospitals. While MSF is not involved in surgery in these hospitals or in the fitting of the prostheses, our staff support patients once they have been fitted with prostheses, helping them recover their mobility.