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Fracture Fixation in Professional Rugby Player

Within three months of fracturing his forearm, Sale Sharks wing Oriol Ripol is back on scoring form.  This is largely thanks to the work of renowned shoulder surgeon Len Funk who was able to operate on Oriol within hours of his injury and limit damage to the arm.

It was in the dying minutes of the EDF Energy cup match against the Cardiff Blues in October that the 33 year old Spanish winger sustained the double fracture.  Luckily South African born Len, a Consultant at the BMI Alexandra Hospital, Cheadle was in the crowd at Edgeley Park with his anaesthetist and was called to the home changing room to assess the damage.

Oriol was in theatre by that evening and after a day in hospital was on the road to recovery - culminating in his scoring return to the side in the Heineken Cup in January.

"It was very lucky that the surgeon and the anaesthetist were in the crowd - it worked out really well," said Oriol.  "It was great because with a break like that I needed to have the surgery done as quickly as possible and it could not have been any earlier, I was in surgery that evening.

"My rehabilitation finished a couple of months ago and now I am back playing and feel very good.  No-one likes to be injured and I just wanted to bounce back as soon as possible.  It was important not to rush the recovery but the care I got from Len and staff at The Alexandra was phenomenal.

Len did a great job and the scar is tiny, I am so happy with it".

Consultant shoulder and elbow surgeon, Len, routinely works with elite and professional athletes, with a particular interest in rugby and contact sports.  With a wealth of experience treating professional sports people, the 44-year-old knows the importance of getting players back to fitness quickly and believes the team receive unique and first class treatment.

"For emergency type of work to get patients in that quickly is not a service you get at any other hospital - we help to keep the Sale Sharks tackling", smiles Len.  "We got Oriol into The Alexandra on the evening of the match for an x ray and then straight into theatre.

"It is imperative for the players that they get back playing.  By not playing they are losing money - it is their job and there are no off-seasons in sport anymore.

"It is crucial for professional players that they have got a great medical team behind them.  It is an important thing to have because there are more injuries nowadays as the game has got harder and tougher.

"The dedication and commitment of the support team allows us to continue training and competing at the highest level, with the confidence that we have the best medical assistance available to us should we need it."


Reproduced with permission from Live Cheshire MAgazine, February 2009

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