Tim Sparv, captain of the Finland men’s national football team, had a successful knee operation at Sports Hospital

The lateral meniscus tear and cartilage damage suffered by Tim Sparv, captain of the Finland men’s national football team, was surgically treated on 30 March 2021 at Mehiläinen Sports Hospital in Töölö, Helsinki. The operation was successfully performed by Mehiläinen Sports Hospital’s specialist in orthopaedics and traumatology Mikko Kirjavainen. It will take about four weeks for the player to get back on the pitch.

Tim Sparv had to drop out of the national team roster after the World Cup qualification game against Bosnia-Herzegovina played in Helsinki on Wednesday 24 March. A medical examination on Friday revealed that the knee of the 34-year-old midfielder required surgery.

“I felt something happen to my knee during the match. I’m still not certain what actually happened and how the injury occurred. After the game, I wondered if the injury would heal on its own with some rest, but it was quickly revealed that it required treatment,” says Sparv.

“On Friday (26th of March), Mikko Kirjavainen checked the MRI scan images and, today (30th of March), the knee was operated on. Everything has gone very smoothly and now I can start the recovery process. Thanks to Mehiläinen Sports Hospital for their excellent treatment,” Sparv continues.

Mikko Kirjavainen, Chief Medical Officer of Mehiläinen Sports Hospital, has performed numerous knee operations on football players and has a good prognosis for the recovery process.

“The surgery went according to plan. The cartilage damage and meniscus tear on the left knee were repaired. The player is allowed to move the leg and bear weight on it immediately. Rehabilitation begins immediately after Easter, and the player can return to team training and games in about a month,” says Kirjavainen.

The Finland captain, who represents AEL in the Greek Super League, is disappointed about not being able to help the national team all the way.

“I’m really let down that I couldn’t stay with the national team and help them in their World Cup qualifying game against Ukraine. This is just what sports is like, and injuries are a natural part of it. Fortunately, everything has gone well and I can quickly get back in shape,” Sparv says.

Removal of an extra bone saved a young dancer’s career

Erika Pastel is one of the most promising young ballet dancers in Finland. She was born with an accessory bone in her ankle, and had it removed by Mikko Kirjavainen, an orthopaedic surgeon specialising in different dance genres. Thanks to Kirjavainen, Pastel was quickly operated and efficiently rehabilitated. The ankle hasn’t bothered the young dancer since the operation.

Pastel had her first appointment with Mikko Kirjavainen in 2016 when she was 16 years old.

“My left foot had bothered me for a while. It was painful to dance, and I couldn’t bend the ankle without it hurting. I was trying to avoid painful movements, but that wasn’t possible,” Pastel recalls.

She had tried to take care of the problem with several physiotherapists, but the pain remained. Finally, Pastel followed a recommendation to see Mikko Kirjavainen.

“I got an appointment quickly and had an ankle MRI. It revealed that I had an extra bone in my ankle causing pain. In my case, the bone was quite big, so Mikko suggested we remove it by surgery.”

Swift operation, quick healing

Pastel decided to choose an operation.

“It all went so fast and so well. I called Mikko to tell him I wanted the bone to be removed, and the very same day I was operated. I was already at home later that day.”

“It was a routine operation, a posterior ankle endoscopy to remove the congenital Os Trigonum. The bone in question often causes problems for athletes who need an extreme range of motion in their plantar flexion – they repeatedly extend the ankle so that the foot points down. It is common among ballet dancers, soccer players and other athletes”, says orthopaedic surgeon Mikko Kirjavainen.

The rehabilitation was hard for the young dancer, even though in hindsight the ankle recovered quickly.

“The physician gave me good instructions for rehabilitation. I was also lucky to be able to have the operation just before Christmas, and benefit from the ballet school’s holiday. I eventually went back to dance classes 2 months after the operation.”

Successful cooperation

Pastel is very happy with the treatment she received.

“It all went so well! The cooperation with Mikko was easy. I stressed out a bit before the operation, but his professionalism and obvious passion for dance insured me that I was in capable hands. After the operation he was exited to show me how big the removed bone was,” Pastel laughs.
The dancer’s left ankle is completely healed, but Pastel and Kirjavainen have encountered afterwards.

“I checked the situation with Erika’s other ankle some years ago when it had started hurting during the Finnish National Ballet School’s visit to Boston. In this case, proper rehabilitation was enough to fix the problem,” Kirjavainen explains.

Ballet as a career

Pastel has danced ballet all her life. In 2019, she graduated as a professional dancer from the Finnish National Ballet School.
“At the moment I’m dancing with the Norwegian National Ballet and will continue here for a year. I’m happy to be able to dance and to do what I enjoy.”

Mehiläinen Sports Hospital in a partner of Helsinki International Ballet Competition (HIBC).

Picture: HIBC

Visiting Mehiläinen Sports Hospital during Covid-19 pandemia

We welcome you to Finland and Mehiläinen Sports Hospital for diagnosis and treatment. However, due to global Covid-19 pandemic there are certain protective measures that need to be understood and completed before your arrival. These guidelines are in accordance with the regulations instituted by the Finnish national health authorities.

Before travelling to Finland, you and your travel partner cannot show symptoms of Covid-19. When you come to Mehiläinen Sports Hospital for treatment you may be accompanied with only one escorting person. At your home country both of you need to have a Covid-19 PCR-test performed and the results must be negative. Please notice, that the test result is valid for 48 hours starting at the time of sampling. You also need to obtain official documentation of the test results and you must send them via email to your surgeon (firstname.lastname@mehilainen.fi ) as well as our surgical coordinator leikkaus.helsinki@mehilainen.fi if your treatment will take place in Helsinki or leikkaus.turku@mehilainen.fi if your treatment will take place in Turku.

During your travel to Finland you must wear a face mask, avoid close contact to other passengers and take proper measures of hand hygiene.

After arriving in Finland, we recommend you rent a car at the airport or travel by a pre-booked vehicle avoiding close contact with other people. You must also wear a face mask at all times. The stay must take place in Töölön Tornit – Helsinki or in Sokos Hotel Kupittaa – Turku, both located adjacent to Mehiläinen Sports Hospitals. The hotel must be booked through our surgical coordinator.

In Finland Mehiläinen Sports Hospital provides you with a new Covid-19 PCR-test, which also must be negative. Please notice, that in case of positive test result you and your accompanying person are placed in hotel quarantine for 2 weeks or until both of you provide a negative test result. This is in accordance with the regulations of the Finnish institute for health and welfare (THL).

Throughout your visit at Mehiläinen Sports Hospital you must wear a face mask and apply proper hand hygiene. During surgery your escort must wait for you in your patient room at the hospital or in your hotel room. Please avoid public places during your visit in Finland.

It is strongly recommended that you familiarize yourself with the travel restrictions of your home country before you leave home, in order to plan the necessary steps in fulfilling the Covid-19 related guidelines applicable in your return. If necessary, we can help you with additional Covid-19 testing before your departure.

In case of any questions please contact our surgical coordinators in Helsinki or Turku, or send an email to info@sportshospital.com


All the way to the top: Mehiläinen Sports Hospital teams up with the Finnish Snowboard Association

The Finnish Snowboard Association (FSA) has started a cooperation with Mehiläinen Sports Hospital. The aim is to maintain and support the overall health of the Finnish national snowboard team known as the Team QKLS, which includes both the adult snowboarders and juniors. The medical team of the Mehiläinen Sports Hospital is with the snowboarders all the way to the top.

Mehiläinen Sports Hospital medical team works with the snowboarders and their support team in all matters concerning health. The aim is to promote the overall health of the athletes, to maximise the number of healthy training days, and to prevent injuries.

“Our strategy to promote top-level snowboarding definitely benefits from our cooperation with Mehiläinen Sports Hospital. Our athletes as well as our personnel have received much needed support also during our current global situation. Thanks to the cooperation, our athletes can feel safe when it comes to medical issues, anywhere and anytime, 24/7,” says Jussi-Pekka Kinnunen, High Performance Director at FSA.

Kinnunen points out that Mehiläinen Sports Hospital is also able to offer the important services of physical coaching and physiotherapy that help prevent injuries. Equally, the cooperation facilitates the work done with other FSA stakeholders like the Olympic Training Center.

“Thanks to such a comprehensive cooperation, the athletes can better focus on their work: sports,” Kinnunen concludes.

“We are happy to be able to offer our expertise in support of these top athletes. Snowboarding is a discipline known for its amazing and bold attitude, whether the person doing it is an amateur or one of the best in the world. Our team has over five years of history with the snowboarders, and we were part of their medical team at the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018. The new cooperation is a natural continuum of our previous work and focuses on the overall health of these top athletes, and on injury prevention”, says Mikko Kirjavainen, Chief Physician at Mehiläinen Sports Hospital.

Finnish Snowboard Association (FSA)

  • established in 1988
  • the world’s second oldest national snowboard association
  • a member of the World Snowboarding Federation (WSF)

Malcom is back in the game

FC Zenit football player Malcom Filipe Silva de Oliveira had a successful surgery on his thigh tendon injury in October 2019. To ensure his full recovery, a well-planned rehabilitation was essential. A team of specialists at Mehiläinen Sports Hospital has created a Return to Play concept that follows the athlete from the first surgical step all the way back to full health and to the field.

Last October, Malcom had surgery on his proximal rectus femoris rupture at Mehiläinen Sports Hospital in Turku, Finland. He was operated by orthopaedic surgeons Lasse Lempainen and Sakari Orava. The surgery was successful, but the cooperation between Malcom and hospital’s medical team didn’t end there.

“After an injury, the decision for a proper treatment is crucial for a top-level athlete. After all, we are dealing with his whole future and career,” says Lasse Lempainen, the orthopaedic surgeon in charge of Malcom’s rehabilitation.

“After the first step, whether it be a surgery or not, a well-planned rehabilitation is essential in reaching a successful end result. That is why we have created the Return to Play (RTP) concept.”

Return to Play – the safe way back to the game

A previous injury increases the risk of reinjury – something a professional athlete wants to avoid. Return to Play (RTP) concept aims to minimize the risk by a close follow-up of the rehabilitation process, additional treatments and vigorous tests.

A multi-professional team of specialists is put together for each athlete, and the clinical pathway is tailored to each patient individually. The team consists of a medical doctor, a physiotherapist and a physique coach. The rehabilitation is a long-term cooperation between the RTP team, the athlete and the support network behind the athlete.

“For Malcom, we had a team that consisted of me, physiotherapist Jari Hemling, and physique coach Marko Yrjövuori. After the operation I made a special rehabilitation plan for Malcom. For the next 3 months, he followed the program under the guidance of the FC Zenit staff Maria Burova, Felix Ledesma and Pavel Pleshkov. Of course, I also followed his development closely,” Lempainen explains.

Tests ensure the athlete is ready to return

Malcom’s return to field tests were organized in Turku, Finland. They consisted of different sections: body mobility, core stability and balance tests, functional exercises on the field and muscle strength measurements. Tests were evaluated by Malcom’s Return to Play team: Lempainen, Hemling and Yrjövuori.

“The aim of the tests is to determine whether the athlete is ready to go back to regular training and continue his professional sports career. The tests complete the whole rehabilitation process and ensure that the injury is properly healed. We definitely don’t want to risk a reinjury by sending the athlete out to the field too early,” Lempainen concludes.

Mehiläinen Sports Hospital partners with the Helsinki International Ballet Competition 2020

Helsinki International Ballet Competition will be organised in Helsinki in June. Mehiläinen Sports Hospital will be in charge of the medical services provided at this international top event.

The Helsinki International Ballet Competition, organised for the ninth time, will take place on 1‒8 June 2020 at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet. Young top dancers from around the world compete in both classical ballet and contemporary dance in the competition, organised at four-year intervals. For the first time, Mehiläinen Sports Hospital will be responsible for the medical services provided at the competition.

  • It is great to be involved in this competition and provide support to competitors through Mehiläinen Sports Hospital’s high-quality services. Our objective is to prevent injuries and ensure that all the participants can enjoy competition days which are as healthy as possible, says Mikko Kirjavainen, Chief of Sports Medicine at Mehiläinen Sports Hospital.
  • Ensuring competitors’ health and wellbeing is extremely important for the Helsinki International Ballet Competition. Ballet is extremely demanding in all respects, and such a competition may pose a tough challenge for young dancers. We are very glad to have Mehiläinen Sports Hospital as our partner – we can rely on high-quality medical care being available for our competitors and volunteers easily and at close range, should an accident happen, says Paula Ranto, Secretary General of the competition.

Medical services are provided for dancers participating in the competition, and the competition organisation’s volunteers in case of sudden illness or injury. The services cover first aid by a physician and physiotherapist at the competition venue. If necessary, further treatment can be arranged at Mehiläinen.

Dr Kirjavainen of Mehiläinen Sports Hospital will support the competitors with his solid expertise in dance.

  • Ballet and contemporary dance are close to my heart. They are a combination of music, rhythm, art and elite sports. I have followed ballet for the past 10 years as the trusted physician for ballet, says Kirjavainen.
  • I have experience in this competition as a physician in the previous competitions. It will be great to follow the skilful, beautiful performances of the young dancers and provide support through my expertise. I’m looking forward to returning to the competition as a representative of Mehiläinen Sports Hospital, he says.

Mehiläinen Sports Hospital’s physician and physiotherapist will be on call at the competition venue in the evenings when the competition is occurring. During the medical centre opening hours, competitors requiring physiotherapy will be sent to Mehiläinen Sports Hospital’s Töölö clinic, if necessary.

Ousmane Dembélé and Hiroki Abe of FC Barcelona undergo surgery at Mehiläinen Sports Hospital

Ousmane Dembélé from FC Barcelona and Hiroki Abe from Barça B both underwent hamstring surgery at Mehiläinen Sports Hospital in Turku on 11 February 2020. Both procedures were successful and were performed by Orthopaedic Surgeon Lasse Lempainen.

Orthopaedic Surgeon Lasse Lempainen’s collaboration with football club FC Barcelona continues.

Ousmane Dembélé, left winger for FC Barcelona, underwent planned hamstring surgery to his right thigh at Mehiläinen Sports Hospital in Turku on Tuesday.

“We knew in advance that Dembélé’s injury was quite severe. The surgery went as planned and he will be able to make his comeback in about six months,” says Lempainen.

“For the time being, recovery requires patience and a thorough rehabilitation programme. The recovery process will be handled in cooperation with the team,” Lempainen continues.
Hiroki Abe’s surgery on Tuesday also went as planned.

“Abe’s recovery will take about four to five months. He plans to make his comeback at the Tokyo Olympics,” says Lempainen.

Partnership with AC Milan Continues

Sakari Orava and Lasse Lempainen Continue Partnership with AC Milan

Orthopaedists Sakari Orava and Lasse Lempainen from Mehiläinen Sports Hospital act as consultants for the Italian football club AC Milan in the treatment of muscle and tendon injuries.

“Muscle and ligament issues are common in professional football. We are honoured that AC Milan, one of the world’s most successful teams, trust us enough to consult us in these matters. They turn to Mehiläinen Sports Hospital in Turku for advice when players receive tricky hamstring or achilles injuries, for example. If necessary, the player will be sent to Turku for treatment, possibly including surgery,” Lasse Lempainen explains.
AC Milan’s Medical Director Stefano Mazzoni has been happy with the possibility of consulting specialists quickly when an injury occurs.

“We value Dr Orava and Dr Lempainen’s opinion in treating our athletes, and the possibility of consulting them makes our doctors’ work easier. It is good to share our experiences and responsibilities.”
Lempainen and Orava were recently invited to Italy by AC Milan. During the visit they evaluated the situation of a couple of players from the club’s first team, and they will work with the club to monitor their rehabilitation.

”One of them had an acute adductor injury, and the other one a hamstring issue. We also familiarised ourselves with conditions at the AC Milan sports centre and held a training session there for the club’s physicians and physiotherapists. Professionally, this was a fantastic opportunity for me personally to follow a top club’s operations and their players’ training at close range,” Lempainen says.

Cooperation since 1986

Sakari Orava’s collaboration with AC Milan goes back a long way, having begun in 1986. He has looked after several of the club’s players over the years; top names such as Giuseppe Pancaro, Dario Simic’, Nigel de Jong and Giacomo Bonaventura are among those who have sought a new spark for their careers on Orava’s operating table.

“Our latest patient from Milan was Lucas Biglia, on whom Dr Lempainen and I conducted surgery last autumn,” Orava says.

“Our aim is to prove ourselves worthy of the team’s continued trust by caring for AC Milan’s players with solid professionalism, in collaboration with the team,” Lempainen concludes.


Elite Runners Trust Mehiläinen Sports Hospital

Elite Runners Trust Mehiläinen Sports Hospital: Tom Kling-Baptiste and Madeline Hills Have Surgery in Turku

The runner Tom Kling-Baptiste underwent surgery on a hamstring injury at Mehiläinen in Turku on Friday 8 March.

“Tom had an acute injury, sustained in January at a training camp in Tenerife. The surgery went well and we believe that after successful rehabilitation, Tom will be able to take part in the Swedish Athletics Championships in August,” explains orthopaedist Lasse Lempainen.

Meanwhile, the training plans of Australian Olympic runner Madeline Hills have long suffered due to a painful hamstring syndrome. She received surgery on Tuesday 12 March.

“Madeline also aims to return to elite-level athletics after her surgery. The Tokyo Olympics in 2020 are her clearest target and, specifically, the 3000 or 5000 metres there. We believe that this will be possible with proper rehabilitation,” Lempainen says.

Lempainen says that hamstring injuries are typical for both sprinters and long-distance runners. The posterior thigh is an essential tool for both types of athletes. Injuries happen and most often they are treatable non-surgically. “For these athletes, surgery was the only option if they wanted to continue competing at the elite level,” Lempainen explains.

Word-of-mouth is spreading: Turku receives new customers from around the world

The strong international renown of Mehiläinen Sports Hospital and many athletes’ positive experiences of the hospital’s surgical procedures, facilities and services are bringing more and more athletes from around the world to Turku. “Both Kling- Baptiste’s and Hills’s coaches came across us when searching information on their injuries. They also found positive feedback from other sportspeople and coaches on our expertise in treating hamstring injuries,” Lempainen concludes.

Coach Håkan Andersson accompanied Tom on his trip to Turku and received instruction in post-surgical rehabilitation. The rehabilitation plan was made in collaboration between Lempainen and physiotherapist Jari Hemling.

World-class orthopaedic expertise for everyone

Trusted by the brightest stars of the sporting world, Mehiläinen Sports Hospital has established an international reputation for the quality of its medical care with hundreds of surgical procedures performed on athletes, football, ice hockey and basketball players, among others. The hospital cooperates with over 200 athletic clubs in Finland and many international sports clubs but also serves thousands of individual patients, focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders.

Founded in 2011, Mehiläinen offers a comprehensive range of services from nutrition to prevention, treatment and rehabilitation – all provided by specialist doctors, surgeons, orthopaedists and physiotherapists who are leading experts in their field. Sports Hospital’s services also include laboratory examinations and services, imaging services (x-ray, MRI, CT), and outpatient hospitals and polyclinics. A smooth and efficient treatment path ensures that treatment can be started quickly in Turku.

Star treatment for all sporting enthusiasts

“The Mehiläinen Sports Hospital slogan says, ‘For us, everyone is a top athlete’, which means that we provide the same high level of treatment to everyone. Most of our patients are not sports professionals but ordinary people who really enjoy their sporting and leisure activities, and want to regain fitness as quickly as possible following an injury,” explains Lasse Lempainen, an orthopaedic surgeon and adjunct professor at Mehiläinen Sports Hospital, who specializes in injuries and disorders affecting the knee, ankle, foot, hamstring, quadriceps and Achilles tendon.

Lempainen’s own active sporting background includes winning medals at national level orienteering competitions, which brings a deeper understanding of the patients to his work.

“I know from personal experience what it’s like to train in a goal-oriented way, and the importance of sporting activities to people who practice regularly, not just in terms of fitness but also at the emotional level,” he says.

“When patients come to Mehiläinen Sports Hospital for a consultation, we have an in-depth discussion and a thorough examination of the problem. If surgery is required, we aim to make the process as simple, affordable and fast as possible. Surgery is often followed by a visit to our physiotherapist. We plan the rehabilitation program and keep in regular contact with the patient following an operation.”

Unique international experience

Alongside his clinical work, Lempainen has an active research career in the field of orthopeadics and sports medicine, especially in hamstring and Achilles tendon injuries and disorders. He is regularly invited to give lectures by sports clubs and international conferences and receives weekly consultation requests from teams in different countries. Lempainen has a long-term consulting role with FC Barcelona and has collaborated on three joint publications published by the Spanish club on the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of muscle tendon injuries.

With many sporting celebrities sharing selfies after a successful surgery in Turku, Mehiläinen Sports Hospital’s surgeons can also find themselves in the limelight. Professor Sakari Orava, mentor of Lasse Lempainen, is among the most renowned sport and orthopaedic trauma surgeons in the world. Now aged 73, Orava illustrious career stretches back over four decades. He has performed Achilles tendon surgery on Olympic gold medallist Haile Gebresel­assie and footballer David Beckham, among many other famous people.

“I started my research under Sakari’s supervision 20 years ago and have been privileged to work closely with him for many years. His unique international experience and networks and are a great asset to the hospital,” says Lempainen.

Over the years, Orava and Lempainen have often had joint patients and worked together in the operating theatre. For example, in September 2017 they performed surgery on the torn hamstring of FC Barcelona’s EUR 105 million signing Ousmane Dembélé, who was part of France’s World Cup winning team in 2018.

“It was very satisfying to watch the football World Cup held in Russia this summer because players who have had surgery at Mehiläinen Sports Hospital won gold, silver and bronze medals,” says Lempainen. “In addition to the top athletes, now more and more ordinary fitness enthusiasts from around the world are also starting to find Mehiläinen. The borders between countries are disappearing and people are coming from further afield to get treatment, for example with difficult hamstring injuries.”

Original article