Working as a consultant knee surgeon in Warrington for the past ten years has given me many great, unexpected opportunities.
I am fortunate to combine my love of sport with my work as a knee specialist
One of the most surprising was being asked to represent Spire Cheshire Hospital as a judge on the panel for The Warrington Guardian’s Sports Personality of the Year.
Sport in Warrington has had another fantastic year. The success of the Wolves rugby league team has stolen most of the headlines but there are many more local individuals and clubs, from across all sports, which have enjoyed similar success and amassed an impressive haul of national and international honours. This led to some very difficult decisions for the panel when awarding the prizes to this year’s sports personalities.
I have always been involved in sport. I was a University of St Andrews Blue in Swimming and Water Polo and ended my playing career at Warrington Water Polo Club a couple of years ago. I remain actively involved in football, rugby and swimming in Warrington and I am always amazed to see the dedication and commitment of all the players, coaches and parents, who ensure our town's strong sporting tradition continues to thrive from grass-roots to the very highest level.
In my work as an Orthopaedic and Trauma Consultant at Spire Cheshire Hospital and Warrington Hospital I am fortunate to combine my love of sport with my work as a knee specialist. One inevitable consequence of competitive sport is injury but, as we've already seen with some of this year's prize winners, many do come back from horrendous injuries and return to compete, and win, at the highest level.
In 2006 I was awarded an Honorary Professorship in the Directorate of Sport at the University of Salford in recognition of the research and teaching that my team in the hospitals here in Warrington had carried out since my appointment as a consultant. We continue to work on improving the outcomes of knee injuries and to make the surgery less invasive, less painful and quicker to heal.
Spire Cheshire Hospital was one of only nineteen in Europe to participate in a SUMMIT Study of the latest technique to treat painful articular cartilage defects in the knee and is now one of the first units in the world able to address this problem using pioneering keyhole implant surgery. I have already had the fortunate opportunity to demonstrate these operations in America, Germany and Japan and have been invited to Rio next year to show the keyhole surgical technique at a worldwide gathering of knee specialists.
Thanks to this and other modern rehabilitation and surgical techniques, injuries that in years gone by would have been career-ending can now be overcome and it's always a great pleasure to work with these patients and help them return to their previous level of competitive sport.
Over the years we have been able to help thousands of patients return to the sports they love. Some of the most remarkable have gone on to climb mountains such as Everest and K2. Others, after anterior cruciate ligament reconstructions following skiing injuries, are back jumping out of helicopters to ski off-piste. I have helped Premiership footballers return to playing at the top level but I’ve also got as much satisfaction from helping someone turn out again for their 'local' on a Sunday morning or seeing one of my patients back on the golf course after a knee replacement.
These success stories are down to the surgical advances that we are proud to be developing and as we celebrate another great year of Warrington sport, I hope they send out a positive and encouraging message to sports men and women competing at all levels.
For further information please visit Professor McNicholas's website.