Hospital getting ready for 2012 Olympics sports injuries

JOE Talbot arrives with a serious foot strain. He’s had it two years now and it’s beginning to affect his work as a film-cameraman who’s often on his feet eight hours at a stretch.

The 39-year-old former football and tennis coach is being treated by paediatric specialist Nat Padhier.

“I’ve had this problem with my heel for the past two years,” Joe tells the doctor. “Can you fix me up?”

He has damaged ligaments, but needs his mobility.

“My problem is I’m a cameraman,” he explains. “I’m on my feet most of the time.”

Nat diagnoses ‘exertional compartment syndrome’ caused by continual pressure on the heel—but reassures him he will have him back on his feet.

Joe is booked in at the London Independent Hospital for decompression surgery, one of only two centres in Britain that carries out ‘intracompartment pressure’ surgery, the other in Leicester.

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But recovery will be up to six weeks. Joe needs time off from filming documentaries to recover—not good news for this former athlete who has run two London marathons with a ‘best time’ of 3hrs 26mins. But that’s what the doc ordered.

Nat Padhier has treated 12 identical cases to Joe’s at the Indy which is now gearing up for ‘big business’ ready for the 2012 Olympics coming to East London.

The hospital in Stepney Green is just two miles down the Mile End Road from the Olympics complex.

It is also Britain’s leading research and treatment centre for sports surgery which attracts GPs on post-graduate courses organised through Queen Mary’s medical college.

Dr Padhier does the practical training—accompanied by post-grad student Samantha Levy, a GP from City Wellbeing clinic in Shadwell.

The ‘Indy’ has become Britain’s ‘centre of excellence’ in sport surgery since it took over the former premises of the London Jewish Hospital 25 years ago.

It attracts Britain’s top surgeons in the field, such as cardiologist Sanjay Sharma, medical director of the London Marathon who recently headed up the largest study yet into sudden death in sport. He gets reports globally and studies the data, looking for even the slightest hint of connection in circumstances, wherever deaths occur in the world.

“You name a sport, we look after it,” he boasts. “Looking after the 2012 Games for us is big business, for athletes and visitors.”

The Olympic polyclinic being set up in the athletes’ village is to be run by East London GP David Wittington, one of the ‘Indy’ team, who will be looking after 40,000 athletes.

Sometimes medics have to sign off an athlete from any competition if they detect any sign of heart ailment. It is a bitter pill to swallow for athletics ‘stars’ riding on international fame and ego—but that’s life. Every athlete is monitored before they even set their first foot forward.

That is how it will be for 2012. Much of the specialist training is done at Stepney Green through Queen Mary College which runs a Sport & Exercise Medicine Masters degree course.

One of the surgeons running the course, John King, would normally tutor 20 students a year. Now, with 2012 on the horizon, he has nearly double that number of post-grad medics aiming for gold.

The ‘Indy’ has around 500 consultants on its books, nearly all of them also working in the NHS.

Nat Padhier is preparing for 2012 as the hospital’s lead consultant for podiatry. This foot injury specialist has no formal contract with Seb Coe’s official 2012 Olympics committee, but already some of the individual national squads abroad are beating a path to his door.

Many will take up the ‘Indy’ option with its medical sports facilities just two miles down the road from the stadium. The ‘Indy’ couldn’t be better placed.

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