The Villar Bajwa Practice works in partnership with Progress the Cambridge Centre for Health & Performance, empowering Olympic athlete Francesca Jones to compete at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Having endured two years of training through pain, Team GB Gymnast Francesca Jones was referred to Mr Ali Bajwa, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at the Villar Bajwar Practice, Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital.
Renown for his expertise, Mr Ali Bajwa exclusively performs hip and knee surgery, specialising in sports injuries and arthroscopy (keyhole surgery). His work with elite-level athletes is testament to his skill and is supported by building strong relationships, trust and partnerships between consultants, coaches, physiotherapists and patients. This is teamwork at its best..
Great Britain's Francesca Jones says: “I’d been living with the pain in certain movements for a couple of years, but over time other movements became sore and progressively worse, until I was just generally in pain all the time. I tried to work through it as I needed to train every day to reach peak performance, but there came a limit, and some days I just couldn’t do anymore. I had been seeing my physio but the situation wasn’t improving so eventually I had a scan, which revealed a hip labral tear.”
Mr Ali Bajwa explains: “Following our consultation, I understood that Francesca was suffering with femeroacetabular impingement (FAI), which is a conflict between the ball and the socket. When they don’t fit together correctly, any movement to the extreme means that one of its components is hitting the other and damaging the seal around the socket and also the cartilage itself."
“The challenge with Francesca was not only to ensure that she could train effectively, but also that she could compete at an elite-level. What causes the damage in cases such as these is the impingement and conflict of the bone, we can deal with this by resculpting the femur head and, in some cases, the socket itself."
“The treatment options here mean that we are able to intervene with keyhole surgery, repair the cartilage damage and carry out regenerative procedures to repair the labrum. Most patients will benefit greatly if the job is done correctly – and that includes ensuring the entire rehabilitation process is completed in order for the treatment to be a total success.”
Ed McHugh, Chartered Physiotherapist at Progress the Cambridge Centre for Health & Performance, comments: “Our relationship with the consultant is paramount. That they are very pro-physio means they understand how important rehabilitation is to the recovery process, this not only helps assure the patient but it shares knowledge beyond surgery, which is a key part of the cure for full elite level recovery. The relationships we have built with Spire Cambridge Lea consultants are excellent and we continue to further these as it really benefits our patients – and that is ultimately what it is all about.”
Francesca continues: “It was important for me to have the operation, for my health and my hip, regardless of whether I was ever going to compete again. If it meant that I couldn’t compete, that would have been a hard decision to make. Although the rehab was a slow process, it was worth it. I am so much stronger now and, needless to say, very happy that I can continue competing.”
Ed McHugh adds: “The ultimate goal is to guide patients through progressive rehabilitation and get them back to function, step-by-step. It’s not just about making the hip stronger or making movements better – these athletes are competing at a very high level of sport, so we work to ensure they can maintain that. Of course, it’s great to see them pain free and active on a daily basis, but we want to go beyond that."
“The Cybex equipment we use is a vitally important tool to sensitively assess muscle strength. This technology allows us to pinpoint the subtle imbalances and create an accurate objective marker to reveal where strengths are and deficits lie. It provides valuable information on targeting specific areas for rehab, which we can then share with Francesca’s team of coaches, strength and conditioning trainers, and physiotherapists – enabling them all to work together to help her achieve the performance she is looking for.”
After a couple of months Francesca’s pains had diminished. She recalls: “It was quite surreal, what I had been suffering was clearly an injury rather than the everyday aches of training. Now, everybody talks with my physio to make sure that I am keeping on track and communication is so incredibly organised. Being able to go to a consultation one week and have it all sorted out and finished the next is amazing."
“After all the good work, I know it is so important for me to keep as strong as I can now, so I don’t injure my hip again, especially during training as my big goal this year is to compete in the Commonwealth Games!”
Return to function is a partnership of surgery and rehabilitation, says Mr Ali Bajwa: “Cases like this are not based on individual decisions. Physiotherapists need to be involved, input from surgeons such as myself and Richard Villar are required, but then there is the involvement of a host of rehab staff and sports physicians."
“While we have an excellent physiotherapy unit here at Spire Cambridge Lea, patients will of course return to their lives following treatment. In fact, 85% of patients come from outside the region. In Francesca’s case, her coaches were based in Wales. This is why it is so important to have a network of key people helping us attain everything our patients want to achieve in life.”
Mr Ali Bajwa concludes: “A successful outcome at the level of elite athletes is a challenge accomplished by a partnership between patient, surgeon, physio and rehab staff, sports physicians and coaches all working together.”