To Defenders of Freedom

Choreographer Oleksandr Chaika got back to work after a severe injury on the frontline

Oleksandr lost his leg in the battles against the Russian invaders. He survived a complicated surgery in Ukraine, got a prosthesis in the USA, and came a long way in rehabilitation. After 10 months, Oleksandr could finally return to his favorite thing – teaching choreography and acrobatics to children.

Oleksandr told his story to Vogue.UA.

Photo from Vogue.UA

On February 24, 2022, with the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Oleksandr Chaika went to defend Ukraine and joined the 24th mechanized brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In the spring he got a serious mine-explosive injury with a gunshot fracture of the right femur. Doctors could not save the soldier’s leg: gangrene began, and the limb had to be completely amputated.

Despite the severe injury, Sasha (short from Oleksandr) says that he never regretted going to the front. “I believe that it is the duty of every citizen of our homeland to stand up for the defense of Ukraine. I knew that I would be useful in this way. My comrades supported me a lot, constantly joked, and thanks to them, my time in the Armed Forces became unforgettable. In addition, I’ve finally grown up. I used to fly more in my dreams, but now I look at things more consciously.”

In the autumn, with the support of the “Future for Ukraine” charitable foundation, Oleksandr underwent prosthetics and rehabilitation at the Medical Center for Orthotics and Prosthetics (MCOP) in Washington, USA. Thanks to that, a man feels less and less pain that used to be his everyday companion for the past several months.

In rehabilitation, it does not matter much whether you were an athlete before, Oleksandr says. “You lie and do not move for five months, and you hardly need all those sports skills. All you feel is unbearable pain. And step by step, you go through the rehabilitation process and get to know your body anew, from the beginning”.

Photo from Oleksandr’s Instagram page

Currently, Oleksandr has already returned to sports and conducts group and individual acrobatics classes for children.

When asked what he would wish for Ukrainian servicemen who lost a limb during hostilities, Sasha says: everything depends on our head.

“Just set a goal for yourself, what to do next. I have many comrades who return to the Armed Forces even after getting a prosthesis. As for me, I will experiment and try various sports, despite numerous prohibitions from doctors. According to them, with a prosthesis like mine, it is impossible to stand on skates, ski, etc. But I can do it, and I will contribute to these sports. You can also be an example of strength for those around you and the world.”

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