Specialized Rehabilitation for Ukrainian citizens mediated by the EU Medevac program

Project leader

Clinical Medical Director / Professor Frank Becker, MD, PhD, Sunnaas Rehabilitation Hospital, University of Oslo


As a part of the Medevac program, Sunnaas Rehabilitation Hospital has provided specialised rehabilitation to over 20 patient with multitrauma, amputations, head injuries and spinal cord injuries with a length of stay of mean 108 days (range 44 to 169 days). Several areas of challenges are experienced:

  • Cultural differences: There are several cultural differences between Norway and Ukraine with regards to food, social roles, trust, judiciary system, etc. This unfamiliarity could influence the rehabilitation process, and especially the trust in health care workers.  
  • Communication: Rehabilitation is based on a goal-oriented process, patient involvement, and treatment alliance between the patient and the team. This makes communication especially important, both in meetings and in everyday therapy.  
  • Isolation: As many as 82% of patients have been carriers of bacteria resistant to broad-spectrum antibiotics, and therefore been in either droplet or contact isolation. This can lead to social isolation and practical challenges in rehabilitation.
  • Psychosocial load: The patients are experiencing increased psychosocial load with an ongoing war at home, from whom many have war traumas and concerns. There may also be a lack of social network, and practical issues about their stay in Norway (i.e. refugee status, economy, housing, etc). This could influence mental health and the rehabilitation process.
  • The rehabilitation process: The rehabilitation in Eastern Europe traditionally focuses on passive measures, while in Western and Northern Europe patients are expected to play an active role in the rehabilitation process. The patient may therefore have different expectations and need more information to understand the principles for rehabilitation. Furthermore, undergoing rehabilitation which has a strong focus on life after discharge may be challenging for Ukrainian patients, which face great uncertainties in the future because of the war.  

The aim of this project is to study the results and experiences from the current rehabilitation services provided to the Medevac patients, with a special focus on the cultural differences, language barrier, isolation, psychosocial load and rehabilitation process. This will be done by extracting information from the medical charts, having patients respond to a questionnaire about the rehabilitation experience, and focus group interviews with members of the rehabilitation team. In addition, we wish to assess the feasibility of a possible larger, European study.

Full-time researcher:

Maria Ryssdal Kraby MD PhD, University of Oslo and Sunnaas Rehabilitation Hospital

Collaborating partners:

Iryna Semenenko, Deputy director at the Ukrainian Ministry of Health, Dept. of High-Tech Medical Care and Innovation

Arman Kacharian, Ukrainian Ministry of Health, consultant for the Medevac program

Mariia Toropchyna, Specialist in physical and rehabilitation medicine

Anders Holtan, Senior consultant at Oslo University Hospital and Norwegian National Coordinator Medevac

Ethical approvals

 The project has been approved by the Regional committees for medical and health research ethics (no. 635076).  


University of Oslo, Faculty of Medicine, NOK 400.000

Time period

15.08.2023 – 31.12.2025 

Last updated 2/8/2024