Recent OT grad returns home from rehabbing veterans in Ukraine

Robert 马特里 poses for a portrait on the quad outside UNE's Parker Pavilion. He wears a shirt that reads "Superhumans," which is the name of the clinic he volunteered at in Ukraine.
罗伯特·莫特利,m.m.S.O.T. ’23.

Robert 马特里 has never been one to shy away from a challenge.

马特里, 伍德斯托克的, 康涅狄格, spent four years in the Army ROTC during his undergraduate years before completing one year of active duty. An injury forced him to retire early — but he didn’t stay down for long, taking up a career as a wilderness rescuer in the mountains of Wyoming.

His desire to provide better medical care for soldiers led him to pursue a 职业治疗专业硕士学位 (OT)在UNE. He said having an OT on his own care team would’ve allowed him to return to the things he loved doing far sooner.

After two years of study, 马特里 graduated with his 职业治疗理学硕士(M.S.O.T.)学位 5月. But instead of entering a private practice or working for a local health care network, 和很多人一样, 莫特利开创了自己的道路.

灵感来自乌克兰战争的画面, 马特里 decided to use his newfound skills to make a difference overseas. He departed in June for a six-week trip to the eastern European country to rehabilitate veterans of war with the goal of getting them back out on the front lines.

他是八月回家的, 上周, returned to UNE to share his story with students currently enrolled in UNE’s occupational and 物理治疗项目.

At a presentation given at UNE on Thursday, Sept. 7, 马特里 spoke of what he called the wartime culture of love and hate — the compassion and camaraderie of banding together to help in the face of senseless violence.

马特里 discussed his experience providing rehabilitation services at the Superhumans clinic in the city of Lviv, where he worked exclusively with soldiers who lost limbs. He showed photos of the destruction taken place in cities like Lviv, Kharkiv, Kyiv. One night, 他说, he slept in a subway station as bombs rang out overhead.

他还谈到了诊所里的病人, a new facility designed to treat those wounded in combat. While chaotic at times, there was a familiar feeling of normalcy to the operation.

“在我到诊所的头30分钟内, I was given the most difficult patient of my life,他说 about a veteran whose hand was left marred by a missile strike. “但, 在很大程度上, my day-to-day was kind of like what it would be at any other outpatient facility.”

Despite not knowing the language and relying on Google Translate (often unsuccessfully), 马特里 said he formed deep ties with the Ukrainian people. 他的名言, “duzhe dobre,或乌克兰语中“非常好”的意思,这在某种程度上成了他之间的一个内部笑话, 他的客户, 还有他团队的其他人.

马特里 even had the phrase tattooed on his arm as a symbol of the lifelong bonds he made there.

作为职业治疗师, we collaborate with our clients to get them back to their daily routines,克里斯·温斯顿说, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA,项目主管 全球十大外围足球平台排行职业治疗. “For Rob, that often meant getting them back to the occupation of being soldiers.

“我们的职业, those things we do that have meaning and purpose, 也与我们的身份紧密相连吗,温斯顿接着说. “以罗布当兵的经历, he was able to relate to clients in Ukraine in a different way given his understanding of similar occupations and their ties to identity.”

在他的演讲中, 马特里 encouraged those who wish to become involved in disaster OT to pursue their passions.

“I want to try to rally support for Ukraine in whatever way I can in Maine and in the Portland community,他说, adding that he has accepted a job in Brunswick and will reside in Portland. “I will likely be going back to Ukraine in some capacity for the rest of my life, I would love to do that with even more allied health professionals so we can have a better exchange of ideas and techniques.”

然而, 他说, the harsh realities of war are not to be taken lightly, noting that he relives his wartime experience every day. He noted that planes passing by overhead now sound like ballistic missiles to him and that he often feels a little jumpy — angry even.

“这是我做过的最好的事情. 这是我做过的最重要的事. 但这是有代价的,”他说.


罗伯特·莫特利,m.m.S.O.T. ’23, talks with NEWS CENTER Maine reporter David Guildford about his experience rehabilitating wounded veterans in Ukraine.



马特里 poses with a soldier fitted with a prosthetic leg