History Ukrainian Association of Physical Therapy

The term “physical therapy”, is widely being used in consumer and professional language, however, there is great ambiguity of its definition and its’ scope in the whole system of health care activities. 

The aim of physical therapy is to restore, compensate and develop new physical, psychological, social and other skills that will enable an individual to live a full life and be an active member of the society, taking into account personal and environmental changes. 

First steps in establishing “physical rehabilitation/therapy” as a profession by taking on the training of physical rehabilitation specialists/physical thrapists was done by the then Lviv State Institute (now University) of Physical Education. Here at the Institute, as a result of the efforts of the Scientific Secretary of the Institute A. Vovkanych and a highly qualified Canadian physiotherapist of Ukrainian origin, O. Kunanec, a partnership was instituted with Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) within the framework of the “Partners in Health Program” which resulted in the “Rehabilitation Program in Lviv” Project. 

The goal of the project was to provide assistance to the Institute to develop and implement an educational program in physical rehabilitation/therapy, the first of this kind in Ukraine. The curriculum was composed from a combination of disciplines from physical and occupational therapy, within the specialty areas of orthopaedics, neurology, paediatrics, gerontology and cardio-respiratory care. 

The following Canadian organizations were involved in the project: Community Based Rehabilitation Development Centre of Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario; McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario; and the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Significant assistance to the project was provided by the Centre for Disability Studies, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and the “Children of Chernobyl Canadian Fund”, Toronto, Ontario. 

The cooperation was being regulated by agreements made between the Institute and the program«Partners in Health Care System» which were signed in December, 1994 and December, 1995 and were in force until the end of 1997. During this period, 11 Canadian experts conducted lectures and workshops for students of the Institute. They also led the students in their clinical practice. Five graduates of the program and teachers of the Institute continued their studies in Canada at the University of Manitoba. 

In 1998, graduates of the University training program founded the Ukrainian Regional Association of Specialists of Physical Rehabilitation. The goals of the Association were to unite specialists of physical rehabilitation to establish their profession, to develop standards of practice for specialists of physical rehabilitation and define their scope of practise, as well as, promote professional development of the specialists and the scientific of physical rehabilitation. 

In 2002, with support of the project “Facilitating the Rights of Children With Special Needs”, funded by  Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Great Britain Human Rights Program, the Association translated and published the book, “Fundamentals of Physical Rehabilitation” by G. Okamoto, and conducted a workshop and published handbook on  myocardial infarct and rehabilitation. 

In 2004, the Association participated in another Canadian-Ukrainian project, “Gender Sensitive Rehabilitation and Care of  People with Disabilities, in Ukraine”. Within the framework of this project the Association translated the video and “Hands On Health Care” and created the video “Safe Mobilization for Everyone”. Also, two educational booklets were published by the Association: “What Is Physical Rehabilitation and what does a Specialist of Physical Rehabilitation Do” and “Lviv Regional Association of Specialists of Physical Rehabilitation and Its’ Activities”

The Association also worked on lobbying interests of the Profession and consumers at the state level. Numerous efforts to address institutions and state ministries at the highest level were undertaken by LOASPR were marginally successful. The maximum achievement of the efforts is a letter issued by the Minister of Health, V. F. Moskalenko V. F. This document, to a small degree establishes a place of  work for physical rehabilitation specialists in the health care institutions which are subordinated to the Ministry of Health. 

Abstract of the letter dated: November 5, 2001. 
…After consideration of the appeal of the Lviv Board of Health of the Lviv Oblast State Administration regarding introduction and implementation of active physical rehabilitation programs for the patients with spine injuries and spinal cord lesion, and given the requirements of Order of Ministry of Health of Ukraine dated 25.12.92, № 195 “On approving the list of higher and secondary specialized educational institutions and obtaining the title which licences to engage in medical and pharmaceutical activities”, I am making the following 


  • If necessary, in specialized medical institutions, to create positions for specialists in physical rehabilitation (in accordance with paragraph 2 of the Order of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine dated 23.02.2000, № 33 “On the standards and typical staff schedules of health care institutions”) and hire graduates of higher educational institutions of Physical Education of III-IV level of accreditation in the specialty of “Physical Rehabilitation”;
  • Salaries of specialists of physical rehabilitation are to be calculated according with the salaries of doctors of other specialties with no qualification category…

This document gives the right to add the position of specialist of physical rehabilitation to the staff schedule to the Director of the institution. The difficulty is that, there are no clearly defined requirements and no mandatory involvement of specialists of physical rehabilitation in the process of the complex of treatment of patients. However, current medical practice standards require this and, the profession of “specialist of physical rehabilitation” is included in the list of professions ДК 003:2005 of Ukraine under the code 3226. 

Such issues led to founding of the Ukrainian Association of Specialists of Physical Rehabilitation in order to gain official recognition of the position and develop the profession. Thus, in September 2007, LOASPR held a meeting of Ukrainian Association of Specialists of Physical Rehabilitation (UASPR), which was attended by representatives of Association Divisons from 15 Oblasts of Ukraine. 

In April 2008 Lviv Regional and Ukrainian Associations of Specialists of Physical Rehabilitation jointly held the first general meeting of UAPT. The meeting was  attended by delegates from 14 Regions of Ukraine as well as many guests (33 persons). The Assembly endorsed the following: 

  1. Develop standards of practice for specialists of physical rehabilitation in Ukraine.
  2. Submit appeals to the ministries asking for permission for the Association of SPR to participate in the development of legal documents related to rehabilitation services in Ukraine.
  3. Adapt the Code of Ethics, make proposals and amendments, and discuss it at the next meeting.

Today LOASPR is implementing a large-scale project “MATRA” (Ukraine – Netherlands), which has defined the main strategies of the Association, which are: 

  • Development of professional standard;
  • Establishing a management system and looking for funding options;
  • Increasing community awareness and cooperation with authorities;
  • Creating a system of professional development of specialists of physical rehabilitation. 

To insure further development, UAPT joined Ukrainian non-governmental socio-political organization, “National Assembly of People with Disabilities of Ukraine”, which unites non-governmental organizations representing the interests of people with disabilities, and consolidates their efforts to improve the situation of people with disabilities in Ukraine. The Association also intends to become a full member of the World Confederation of Physiotherapists in order to gain support of the professional community in the process of shaping and developing the profession of specialist of physical rehabilitation in Ukraine.