BY NEWS REPORTER
A promising young footballer who injured his hip just before a trial with a Premier League football club is back on the pitch thanks to a children’s hip and knee surgery service.
Jovel Jackson-Davis, 15, from Waterloo, was one of the first patients to benefit from the new hip and knee service at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, which is the first children’s hospital in London and the south-east of England to provide arthroscopic (keyhole) hip and knee surgery to under-16s.
Rising numbers of children are suffering from knee and hip injuries due to the increasing popularity of competitive sports, and there is a need to treat these injuries in an appropriate setting which meets their specific needs.
Keyhole surgery is already a established procedure for adults, and is used to remove or repair damaged cartilage, torn ligaments and inflamed tissue around joints.
Its use in children is developing rapidly in the UK, thanks to better understanding of children’s joint disorders, advances in adult keyhole surgery and specialist training of children’s orthopaedic surgeons.
The benefits to children are the same as in adults: the procedure is less invasive than traditional surgery, patients experience less pain and recovery is much faster, which is good news for sports-mad teenagers like Jovel.
He said: “When I hurt my hip, the timing couldn’t have been worse. I had just been spotted by a talent scout and offered a trial with a Premier League club, and I was really worried this would ruin my chances. But Evelina London got me back on the pitch in record time. I had my operation in September and by January I was back training and free from pain.”
The service at Evelina London was set up by Michail Kokkinakis, a consultant children’s orthopaedic surgeon. He said: “There is a rising need for arthroscopic surgery among under-16s, but until recently our children’s orthopaedic team was not in a position to provide this service.
“Now, thanks to Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, we have our own dedicated hip and knee arthroscopy equipment. Children can be referred, assessed and treated in a dedicated environment with patients their own age, and looked after by experienced clinicians who specialise in treating children.
“It has already begun to transform the way we manage cases of hip and knee injuries in children and adolescents to meet their unique needs. We treat them in a different way to adults because children are still growing so it is vital to avoid problems with their growth in future.
“In the past year the number of referrals has trebled and 31 patients had keyhole hip or knee surgery at Evelina London in 2017 compared with only eight patients in 2016.
“Thanks to the new service, we are able to treat an increasing number of young patients to meet a growing demand for it.”
Keen tennis player Remel Alvares-Matthews, aged 17, had keyhole surgery for an injured knee at Evelina London last May, and was back playing tournaments after only a few months.
Remel, from Streatham, said: “The whole experience was very easy, and the team took the time to explain everything that was happening, and to teach me how to use my crutches and practise knee exercises after I had had the operation. I recovered very quickly, too. After a couple of months, I was able to ease back into tennis.
“It really does feel as if everything is back to normal now.”
As for Jovel, he’s hoping to be declared match fit at his next outpatient appointment. He says: “Mr Kokkinakis wrote a letter for me and my dad to send to the club to explain how long it would probably take before I was fit enough to make the trial. Luckily they are happy to wait.”
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