Friday, April 29, 2016

Surgeons with healing touch


 Level Field

A number of our sportsmen and women would not have reached the pinnacle of their respective sport if not for orthopaedic surgeons who mend their injuries and put them back on the path to glory.
They would be eternally grateful to the surgeons without whose Midas touch their careers would have ended prematurely.
Sometimes, officials, the public and even the media are unkind to athletes coming back from injury and write them off at the slightest opportunity or when they take a longer time than usual to return to form.
One has to go through what these athletes endure in their comeback attempt, especially after operations, to understand their tough road to recovery and their original form.
Yes, these days operations are no longer what they used to be, thanks to the introduction of minimally invasive surgical procedures like arthroscopy. But still, for the operation to be successful, rehabilitation is of utmost importance.
I have personally had knee operations, and am in fact writing this column from a hospital bed. I had to undergo an operation on my right knee on Tuesday morning to remove a loose bone and repair the dislodgement of a piece from a knee replacement done one and a half years ago.
I had had both my knees replaced, thanks to wear and tear, football activities, not to mention the weight that built up after I stopped playing and coaching ten years ago.
Before the knee replacements, I underwent three arthroscopies – two on my right knee and one on my left – as early as 1990.
In a way, I am an ‘expert’ when it comes to these operations and rehabilitation after the surgery. I completed 40 three-hour sessions after the knee replacements. But that is nothing compared to what elite athletes undergo to get back into shape.
What I did was just so I could walk properly and probably jog and exercise comfortably without pain and stress.
And rest assured that despite having gone for four previous procedures, my fifth was no plain sailing.
The anxiety was there, which is where your orthopaedic surgeon, anaesthesiologist and the medical staff play a key role, keeping you calm before and after the surgery. Now I understand why athletes hold their medical staff in high esteem and feel indebted to them.
Take consultant orthopaedic and sports surgeon Dr Gan Eng Cheng and consultant anaesthesiologist Dr Wahida A Latiff, who have handled hundreds of athletes through the recommendation of the National Sports Institute (NSI).
Dr Gan, 52, has also been an associate sports medial doctor with NSI since 1997. A medical graduate of Universiti Malaya and a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, he also has a master's in sports orthopaedics from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and a master's in sports medicine from Queensland, Australia.
With such qualifications, it is little wonder that Dr Gan is much sought after by elite athletes and laymen alike.
Walk into his clinic and you will see numerous photographs of the athletes he has successfully treated for injury on the walls. 

Dr Gan and Dr Wahida are more than medical personnel to these athletes. They are also their counsellors and confidants. They quickly put their patients at ease and make the whole procedure an experience rather than an ordeal.
They explain every procedure patiently and after the operation, they are there to ensure that you are comfortable and to prepare you for the rehabilitation process.
Among the prominent athletes who were treated recently by these two good doctors and went on to compete again in their respective fields and excel are: Lee Yang (wushu – right ankle), Mohd Hafifi Masnor (weightlifting – left thigh), Nauraj Singh (high jumper – right foot), Lee Hup Wei (high jump – left thigh), Goh Liu Ying (badminton – both knees), Tracie Ang (artistic gymnastics), Amy Kwan (gymrama – right ankle), Shalin Zulkili (bowling – right foot), Sharon Koh and Hee Har Yen (bowling – both knees), Zatil Iman Zulkifli (bowling- shoulder), Mohd Irfan Fazil, Wan Zack Haikal, Rueben Kathiripillai and Amirzdwan Tajuddin  (football – knee), Nur Izzati (basketball), Adi Aliffuddin Hussin (weightlifting), Pandelela Rinong (diving – left knee),Yu Peng Kean (fencing) and Marianna Mohammed (cycling – right leg). 
So, the next time an athlete comes back from an injury, have a heart for the pain and suffering he or she has to undergo and spare a thought for the people behind the scenes who were responsible for putting them back on track.
But in the meantime athletes would do well to maintain themselves after strenuous workouts or competition by taking themselves to undergo, rejuvenation programme which include physiotherapy, massage, sauna, hot and cold treatment, proper warm downs and a medical examination. These will definitely maintain an athletes’ condition well and also prevent some injuries.
In the meantime I salute the medical team!

TONY is a sports
journalist with more than
three decades of experience
and is passionate about
local sports.
He can be reached at
Twitter: @tmariadass​

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