Dr. Kozyavkin - a miracle worker who believes in the future of Ukraine

Volodymyr Kozyavkin, head of the International Rehabilitation Clinic There is a hospital in the town of Truskavets that works miracles - children suffering from cerebral palsy (PS), other serious diseases and spinal injuries begin to take care of themselves, walk and talk within two or three weeks after being admitted. It is a stunning result, and those who see the sick children before the treatment and after it exclaim in disbelief, “It’s nothing short of miracle!” The principle miracle worker is Doctor Volodymyr Kozyavkin who performs miracles with his hands - in a very literal sense.

New therapy

In the early 1980s Dr Kozyavkin began to use manual therapy for improving the muscular tonus of the PS children, but since the children’s spine is, in many respects, very much different from the grown-ups’ spine, the classical manual therapy techniques were hardly applicable. The doctor realized that new techniques were to be developed, and it took him almost ten years to do so. In 1989 he made a report at the International Manual Therapy Congress in London about his findings, and in 1990 he set up a rehabilitation centre. The new techniques gradually evolved into an entirely new therapy which was given the name of The System of Intensive Neurophysiological Rehabilitation (SINR). In the past ten years five thousand children form all regions of Ukraine and from many countries of Europe and America have been rehabilitated at the Kozyavkin International Clinic.

Originally, the new therapeutic centre was set up in Lviv but soon enough it became apparent that a new, larger centre was needed to accommodate all those who wanted to get treatment. Volodymyr Kozyavkin’s system of treating patients suffering from pathologies of the spine, consequences of injuries, infections, and strokes was so much better in comparison with the similar therapies provided at other Ukrainian, Russian, European or American clinics that the waiting lists of patients who wanted to go through Kozyavkin’s rehabilitation course kept growing. And it was decided to have a large centre built. Very wisely, the location of the new clinic was moved to the town of Truskavets, a spa at the foot of the Carpathians. The place was famous for its beautiful scenery and excellent quality of its mineral water obtained from many sources. Besides, Truskavets is strategically situated close to the border and to Lviv that is within easy reach for foreign and domestic patients. In 1996 an Institute of Medical Rehabilitation was opened in Truskavets and in 2003 the construction of the International Rehabilitation Clinic was completed. The opening of the clinic was hailed by the media as one of the major events in Western Ukraine in the year 2003.

The International Rehabilitation Clinic in Truskavets The six-story clinic, apart from being a state-of-the-art medical centre, offers services comparable to those provided by a four-star hotel. In fact, it was Dr Kozyavkin’s intention to provide comfort of a four-star hotel at his clinic in order to minimize the psychological impact a medical institution with its atmosphere of woe, disease and smell of medicines has on patients. Dr Kozyavkin’s semicircular office is at the top floor of a tower, from whose windows open wide vistas of the sky and of the mountains, of the mountains and of the sky. Dr Kozyavkin is an enthusiast of mountain hikes and whenever he has time, he spends it in the mountains, “closer to the sun.” The site for the clinic was chosen specifically to provide gorgeous views that would open from the clinic’s windows - what you see from every window is like a picture from a welcome-to-our-resort tourist brochure. Dr Kozyavkin believes that the scenery is as important in its positive effect on the patients as the salubrious air. The interior decor of the clinic has also been designed to produce a soothing impression upon the patients - the flamboyant neo-art nouveau style of the interior design with its stylized flower motifs evokes an upsurge of positive emotions the moment you enter the lobby of the clinic. The whole place is permeated with feelings of regeneration, renaissance and recovery.

Excellent results

The key feature in Dr Kozyavkin’s therapy lies in “turning on” the sections of the brain which are adjacent to the damaged section, in other words, it aims at finding compensatory mechanisms thanks to which the patient’s organism can, at least partly, restore the functions that have been lost. Positive results are achieved in ninety percent of the cases. Says Dr Kozyavkin:

“There is one fundamental difference between what we offer and what is offered in clinics similar to ours abroad — we have found the key to the door that leads to the reserves and compensatory mechanisms of the human organism in general, and of the brain in particular. Mobilizing these reserves, the patient can adapt to the complexities of life. Into the foundation of our therapy we have put physical therapy, in other words therapy which does not involve either taking medicines or undergoing operations. We have developed original techniques of corrective measures applied to the spine and the joints, which together with other procedures are used to start mechanisms dormant in the bodies of the sick children. We use reflexotherapy, kinetotherapy, complex and manual therapies but not in their classical versions but in our own new ways. All our therapies are based on the results of comprehensive scientific research. The group of researchers and doctors I headed who were involved in developing the new therapy have been awarded a state prize in Ukraine in the field of science and technology (and Dr Kozyavkin himself was awarded the Order of the Hero of Ukraine - N.K.) Our therapy is among the four world’s leading rehabilitation therapies.

Positive emotions are part of the cure - games and entertainment are regular occurences Over 4,000 patients from different countries of the world but mostly from the USA, Austria, Switzerland, the USA and Russia, have been treated at our clinic. These countries have their own clinics and rehabilitation therapies but people want to come to our clinic. Why? Because the treatment we provide brings excellent results.

There are so many things in Ukraine that are at the forefront of science, technology and medicine, but this tremendous potential is realized but little, and our clinic is a good example of what can be achieved through concentrated effort, commitment and determination. We are successful because we employ a comprehensive approach. We combine functionality and structural efficiency, and we achieve results whose quality is of the highest world standards.

Incidentally, everything in our clinic is made in Ukraine - materials, design, equipment. And all our doctors and medical personnel are Ukrainians, and of course all the methods of treatment are Ukrainian. We believe that we can achieve all the goals we set ourselves. We rely only on ourselves, we do not wait for the state to support us, or for foreign investors to come and provide us with the necessary capital. We do not believe in getting things done for free - as they say free cheese can be found only in mousetraps. We look ahead and we know what we shall need and how to get what we need. We are not alone in using this kind of approach, there are others like us, and not only in medicine, but in other fields as well. Things have started to get moving in Ukraine.”

No competitors

There are no clinics like Dr Kozyavkin’s in Europe, he has no competitors in his field. Patients come from all the regions of Russia, from the north, south, west and east, and about the same number come from Western Europe and America. Children are accompanied by parents or relatives and they are provided with accommodation. The rehabilitation treatment costs from two to three thousand Euros on average. But it is not the costs which are lower than at similar institutions elsewhere that attract patients - it is the excellence of treatment and results that are major attractions. When their child is sick, the parents think in terms of the results of therapy rather than in terms of money. It takes but two weeks at Dr Kozyavkin’s clinic to get the children, who at the beginning of the course of treatment cannot walk or who react but little to the world around them, walking and talking. Children who are bent, miserable and immobile, straighten up, begin to move their limbs, learn anew to take care of themselves - watching this miraculous transformation makes an indelible impression upon anyone who witnesses it. On one of the children’s pictures which hang in great numbers on the walls of the clinic, I read these words: “Here we have one misfortune - and one joy.” The joy of becoming healthier, of being able to walk, to use the hands, to rejoice. The joy of seeing children come back to life, of hopes coming true. And for the parents who see all these miracles happen, the doctor who makes it all happen is hardly anything short of a saint.

A child who was practically immobilized before treatment begins to walk after several weeks of intensive therapy The course of treatment at the clinic completed, all the patients are provided with individual programmes of further curative exercises they should follow at home in order to secure the results achieved at the clinic. It is a step-by-step course that is designed to bring the patients back to normal life. The clinic keeps in touch with its ex-patients, provides advice and consultations, suggests further steps in the rehabilitation process. The clinic sends to its former patients not only medical advice but good wishes as well - in December 2004 more than 3,500 Christmas cards were sent to addresses abroad with seasonal greetings. Each card to a former patient who has been set on the road to recovery.

All the rooms - which double as hospital wards - in the clinic are computerized, and the computers help track the progress and make treatment of every patient individually targeted. A new Internet service is being set up and the ex-patients and potential patients will be able to receive consultations through the Internet, and get whatever information they seek about the clinic and costs of treatment. The parents of children who suffer from diseases that the clinic provides treatment for will be able to get advice as to the use of computers at home in order to develop the children’s intellect and teach them skills useful in life. Such a complex approach which includes treatment at the clinic and post-treatment monitoring and advice is unique not only in Ukraine but in the world.

Says Dr Kozyavkin: “I’ve been able to turn my idea into reality only thanks to the fact that Ukraine went independent. It was independence that opened the way for projects like mine. Yes, there are a lot of problems that this country faces, but we have enough intellectual, scientific and human potential to carry out the most ambitious projects which will bring Ukraine up to a decent standard of living and earn this country a high prestige in the world. It’s not enough to say ‘I love my country,’ - you have to work hard for your country to prove that you really love her. Determination, commitment, perseverance, culture, traditions - all these things combined will bring the desired results. Achievable ideas, interesting ideas, original ideas, living ideas are what we need to move forward. Here, at out clinic, we are a team united by common ideas and joint work, and this principle applied elsewhere will work as successfully.

I’m convinced that most problems we face today in Ukraine are the result of the problems that exist within us. We are the product of a very complicated past. It’s very difficult for the older generations who lived for so many years under the Soviet regime to get rid of the old stereotypes. That is why I made it a point to employ younger people, mostly those who were not affected by the Soviet ideology. Many of the clinic’s personnel had worked in Argentina, Spain, Portugal and other foreign countries, and when they came back home they discovered that they could earn good money here, in Ukraine! We are proud to say that our clinic creates new lucrative jobs, that people of Truskavets and of the whole area have a chance of finding very good jobs without having to go abroad in search of employment. I can tell you this - I’ve been to many countries of the world, I’ve visited such major cities as New York, Paris, Madrid, Johannesburg, Tel-Aviv, you name it, and I’ve discovered that there’s no better country than Ukraine. It is only in Ukraine that I could make my dream of having a clinic like ours come true.”

By Nataliya Kosmolinska