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Pioneering surgeons tackle sports injuries

References: Bolton Evening News, first published Tuesday 17th Aug 2004.

PIONEERING medical treatment which helps athletes return to sport after horrific injuries is the brainchild of a Bolton surgeon.

The Manchester Sports Medicine Clinic became the country's first specialist sports medicine facility when it opened a year ago and has helped some of this country's top rugby and football players return to action after injury.

It is now recognised as a centre of excellence and one of the country's top surgeon-led sports injury and arthritis clinics.

The idea for the clinic occurred to Bolton consultant Sanjiv Jari while he studied in America.

Trauma and sports injury specialist Mr Jari felt British athletes were being held back as there was no dedicated sports injury facility in the UK, forcing sportsmen with serious injuries to travel to the States for treatment.

Mr Jari went to Indianapolis to learn about minimally invasive joint surgery and non-surgical rehabilitation.

On returning to the UK, and after working as a lower limb surgeon at Hope Hospital in Manchester, he set up the Manchester Sports Medicine Clinic at Beaumont Hospital, Old Hall Clough, Bolton.

"If I hadn't gone to the States, I don't think I would have been able to do this," he said.

Mr Jari wanted to treat recreational athletes as well as the elite and made the decision to appoint surgeons with interests in specific areas of the body.

Bolton upper limb specialist Lennard Funk, and lower limb and trauma surgeon Henry Maxwell, who lives in Bury and specialises in foot and ankle work, are also part of the team.

They are joined by Bolton sports medicine specialist Chris Brookes, who is the team doctor to the Great Britain Rugby League squad and a consultant to the Bradford Bulls team.

Mr Jari said: "The clinic has been going for a year now and most of our work has been with normal athletes. But our profile is increasing with the elite clubs in rugby league and football.

"I've been working with the British wrestling team for about a year and Chris Brookes, who lives in Bolton is the team doctor for the Great Britain Rugby League team.

"We have had players from Wigan Warriors, Bradford Bulls, Leigh Centurions, Salford City Reds and Warrington Wolves here, as well as referrals from Manchester City. We have not gone out there to become team doctors or to belittle what the clubs are doing in that area - we are just here if they want us to help." Mr Jari said.

He said an important difference between the clinic and typical medical treatments is that there is a strong emphasis on team playing and educating the patient.

The clinic works closely with a patient's physiotherapist or GP with the aim of offering every athlete the physical, medical or surgical treatment they need, supported by aftercare to help a rapid return to sport.

In addition to the treatments, the surgeons also dedicate their experience to pioneering research and the development of cutting-edge techniques for sports injuries and the treatment of arthritis.

"We really wanted a team feeling here, so everyone works together rather than in separate departments," Mr Jari said.

"As clinical lecturers at the University of Manchester, we are all involved in the teaching and training of medical students, nurses, physios and doctors, as well as other orthopaedic surgeons. We all work at the same NHS hospital and are proud to have successfully transferred our teamwork and beliefs into the clinic.

"Our emphasis has been to work on an educational basis with physios who don't get that continuation in education once they have qualified. We have given lectures and held workshops with physios and GPs, as well as carried out clinical sessions.

"We will see a person and go through their history, find out what happened to them, examine them and come back with a diagnosis.

The treatment doesn't always require surgery. Indeed, two out of three don't - they just need an appropriate rehabilitation programme to get them back into training.

"A lot of people see a physio or undergo surgery and don't take it to the next level

"To get back to playing they need the sports specific rehabilitation.

"Five or six years ago, an anterior cruciate ligament was a career-ending injury. But now, the average for getting back to playing is nine to 12 months.

"It's an aggressive rehabilitation programme and I seem to be getting people back in five, six or seven months.

"It's not because I'm doing anything wonderful in my surgery - I'm just allowing the person to do what they should be doing. The players are happy because they don't have to hobble around on crutches for months," Mr Jari said.

The clinic is in the process of building a hospital in central Manchester, but will continue to see clients in Bolton.

Mr Jari believes this is important as it keeps a local feel and more people here are becoming informed about the treatment of injuries.

"When high-profile athletes injure themselves, people do tend to read about it and become more educated. Hopefully they then ask their GPs the right questions," he added.

For details about the clinic, visit the website www.sportsmedclinic.com or contact 0161 2270027.

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