The Ukraine Wellness Project (UWP) is an US-funded volunteer project that aims to incorporate acupuncture into the rehabilitation process for Ukrainian soldiers and veterans.

Ukraine is facing a huge task, to win the war while also making sure that its soldiers and veterans have access to recover from complex physical and psychological traumas. While its health care system is becoming overwhelmed dealing with huge number of cases of concussions and other physical injuries, there is an overall patient driven push to learn fast, and use what works.

The UWP has responded by offering to treat returning war veterans with traditional Chinese medicine. Over the past 12 months its Kyiv and US based volunteers have treated thousands of veteran patients at Kyiv's Lisova Polyana rehabilitation center, a veteran facility treating up to 230 patients at a time, suffering from physical and psychological trauma.

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As an adjunct to conventional layered treatment procedures, acupuncture has shown itself to be highly effective in pain management, neuropathy and neuralgia, sleep cycle imbalance, and symptoms of PTSD including physical tension, anxiety and mood instability.

Oksana Dovbnya is a Kyiv neurologist with over 25 years of professional experience as an acupuncturist. Since volunteering to assist at Lisova Polyana over almost ten months she has seen over a thousand patients.

She said “At the Polyana I see empirical evidence that acupuncture showed itself to be an effective method in treating war related injuries and conditions, including concussions and PTSD related symptoms. At the center there is a consistent high patient demand to get acupuncture. I often see 30 to 35 patients daily, and many patients continue daily treatments over a two-to-three-week course because they start to feel better.

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The stark reality is that without very immediate military backing and supplies from the US, Ukraine could lose the war, or at least significantly more territory, the author writes.

“I know that in Ukraine acupuncture has declined in popularity among the medical establishment, there are many reasons for why this happened in Ukraine. While this needs to change in the future, right now I’m focused on solutions. In practice, I have seen that certain acupuncture protocols work very well, and I have decided to spend my energy to help the injured guys, instead of making scientific papers during the time of crises.

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“At UWP we hope to show that acupuncture has a place in today’s rehabilitation of veterans as a bridge modality between physical and mental health.”

Sterile non-reusable needles are inserted according to the blueprint created for 2000-year-old Chinese Traditional Medicine.

As Western science develops it continues to develop theories about why acupuncture works. The needles which are placed according to traditional practices affect complex cascades of feedback loop systems inherent in the body’s physiology and its central nervous system. The anatomy of channels shares a correlation with the location and function of fascial planes.

Acupuncture can be used independently or with other medical procedures or drug treatments.

It can have a profoundly relaxing effect on the nervous system. People often relax or fall asleep during sessions. It does not create dependency, does not have side effects, and it is well tolerated by most patients.

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Patients often report improved sleep patterns, having more energy, feeling calmer, and the disappearance of persistent headaches. Those with severed nerves from bullet injuries or surgery begin to feel sensation returning to their limbs. Their scars from surgeries heal more efficiently. Many report changes in orthopedic pain levels. 

In the US, acupuncture is included as a standard methodology within the veterans’ health care system, along with physical and chiropractic care. Physicians prescribe acupuncture for both acute and chronic conditions for most orthopedic or mental health conditions. Licensed acupuncturists, who have a master’s degree in Chinese Medicine, administer the treatments.

While UWP is focused on delivering acupuncture to veterans during the war, in the future it hopes to contribute towards a resurgence of acupuncture in general Ukrainian medical treatment by providing quality Traditional Chinese Medicine education to health care providers.

The project's vision is to see acupuncture as a standard treatment option for rehabilitation of veterans in Ukraine.

Yekaterina Chizayeva, LAcu, is the Founder of the Ukraine Wellness Project (UWP)

To find out more about UWP go to Instagram @Ukrainewellnesslisova or email Katya Chizayeva, UWP founder, at [email protected]

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