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Ukrainian academics visit USW to share knowledge in physical and mental rehabilitation

FOUR academics from Kharkiv State Academy of Physical Culture – the University of South Wales’ partner university in Ukraine – have enjoyed a visit to USW this week to exchange ideas in rehabilitating those affected by the conflict. 

Established in 1930, the Academy is one of the oldest sports management institutions in Ukraine, training students to be physiotherapists and sports coaches, among many other professions. It has been twinned with USW since December 2022, as part of the Twin for Hope campaign run by Universities UK.

Yuliya Kovalenko, Olena Pavlyk, Larysa Ruban and Viktoriya Misiura have spent the week visiting USW’s campuses in Newport, Cardiff and Pontypridd, touring its facilities in areas such as chiropractic, music therapy and neurovascular research.

Yuliya, a lecturer in ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), said she and her colleagues have benefited from a huge range of specialist knowledge exchanges during their visit.

She said: “We took part in a music therapy session at USW’s Newport Campus, where we played musical instruments and heard about the benefits of music therapy in mental rehabilitation, which would complement the work we already do in art therapy in Kharkiv.

“We also visited USW’s Chiropractic Clinic in Treforest and the neurovascular lab at Glyntaff, where we learned how physical rehabilitation can be used in a number of ways to help people with injuries or disabilities.

“Our tour of the Sport Park was especially interesting, as we could see how performance analysis, sports psychology and strength and conditioning all works together to help train future physiotherapists and sports coaches.

“We will take back so many ideas of how we can support soldiers and civilians who need physical and mental rehabilitation. So many of our sportsmen who are world and Olympic champions are now fighting in the war – their lives have been turned upside down, and we need to be ready to help them when they return. They may suffer from PTSD, or have become physically disabled, and they will need support to rebuild their lives.

“We are extremely grateful to USW for such an interesting and beneficial visit, which will hopefully lead to further collaboration between our universities.”

Dr Mike Chick, USW’s Refugee Champion, organised the visit. He said: “It has been an absolute privilege and honour to spend the week with the four visiting academics from the Kharkiv State Academy of Physical Culture.

“Academic staff from across the University have generously given their time to share their expertise, show off our fantastic facilities and host mutually beneficial discussions, and we’re sure that this visit will be the first step in a very fruitful partnership across a number of different disciplines.”