Hurdler Annimari Korte operated at Mehiläinen Sports Hospital – “There will be important major competitions next year”

The holder of the Finnish record for 100 metres hurdles, Annimari Korte, had surgery on her hamstrings on Thursday, 12 August 2021, at Mehiläinen Sports Hospital in Turku, Finland. The surgery was performed by orthopaedic surgeon Lasse Lempainen.

Annimari Korte has long suffered from repetitive strain injuries affecting her hamstrings, which started with a sprain. These injuries also dominated the hurdler’s preparations for the Tokyo Olympics. Hamstring syndrome is a repetitive strain injury resulting from strenuous exercise and is a typical ailment of athletes such as hurdlers. The pain typically appears in the gluteal region when running – and sometimes even when sitting or lying down.

“With Annimari, we checked what could be achieved with conservative treatment before deciding to operate, as in most cases symptoms can be reduced with rehabilitative treatment. This time, conservative treatment was not sufficiently helpful, and surgery was the right choice in this situation. The surgery was performed today, and it was successful. The backs of both of her thighs were operated on,” says orthopaedic surgeon Lasse Lempainen.

The reigning Finnish champion will not defend her championship from last year at the upcoming Finnish Athletics Championships. After the Olympic Games in Tokyo, a decision was made to not take part in the rest of the season’s competitions and to instead focus on the major competitions taking place next summer, when both European and World championships will be up for grabs.

“I’m sorry to miss the Finnish Athletics Championships and the Finland-Sweden Athletics International, but next year will be an important one. I made a decision in Tokyo to have the surgery as quickly as possible. This gave me an extra month to prepare for next summer,” Annimari Korte says.

“I’d like to say a big thank you to Mehiläinen Sports Hospital and Lasse. I wanted Lasse to operate on my legs because he genuinely cares about athletes, and that’s a great thing. I’ll now focus on rehabilitation, and I hope that I’ll be in better shape and be able to train with fewer issues than I’ve had in the last two years,” says Korte.

“Rehabilitation after a repetitive strain injury should be done with care. Surgery is one part of recovery and rehabilitation towards peak condition begins here. We hope that Annimari’s fastest times and greatest achievements are still ahead,” Lempainen says.

Thomas Van der Plaetsen operated at Sports Mehiläinen in Turku, Finland

Thomas Van der Plaetsen suffered a serious hamstring injury when he competed in the long jump at the Tokyo Olympics. The 30-year-old athlete left the stadium in a wheelchair.

After remote consultation Van der Plaetsen sought treatment with Orthopaedic Surgeon Lasse Lempainen in Turku.

”The surgery went as planned and I am satisfied with the result,” Lempainen says after the operation.

”It´s a big relief that the surgery today went well and that full recovery lays ahead. I´m extremely grateful to Dr Lempainen for this availability, quick assessment and fantastic skills,” Van der Plaetsen says.

”We wish Thomas a good recovery and a successful return to the track,” Lempainen concludes.

Leonardo Spinazzola operated on at Sports Hospital

Leonardo Spinazzola’s Achilles tendon was ruptured during the Euro 2020 quarter-final match between Belgium and Italy. After the dramatic injury, the player was carried off the pitch on a stretcher to the shelters in the Allianz Arena in Munich. After returning to Rome, Spinazzola and AS Roma chose orthopaedic surgeon Lasse Lempainen as the treating physician. The injury required an operation, which was performed on Monday.

”The surgery went as planned and I am satisfied with the result. AS Roma doctor Massimo Manara supervised the operation,” Lasse Lempainen says after the operation.

”I am of course disappointed that I could not continue the European Championships, but I will come back even stronger after the surgery and rehabilitatio,” Spinazzola says.

Following the surgery, Spinazzola faces intensive and carefully planned rehabilitation, which will be carried out in close collaboration between AS Roma and Lasse Lempainen.

“It is a tremendous expression of confidence to treat one of AS Roma’s top athletes in cooperation with the club. I wish Leonardo a good recovery and a successful return to the pitch,” Lempainen concludes.

Injured Ousmane Dembélé receives treatment at Sports Hospital

The France and FC Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembélé underwent surgery at Sports Hospital in Turku on Monday, 28 June 2021. The procedure, performed by Orthopaedic Surgeon Lasse Lempainen, was a success.

The France national team’s forward Ousmane Dembélé was injured in the match between Hungary and France on 19 June in the Euro 2020 competition currently underway. The injury occurred when Dembélé turned sharply to dribble past an opposition player. By mutual decision of FC Barcelona and the player himself, Dembélé sought treatment with Orthopaedic Surgeon Lasse Lempainen in Turku.

“The injury required surgery, and the operation took place on Monday as planned. The player suffered a complete tear of the tendon of his right proximal hamstring around the knee area. FC Barcelona’s doctor Jordi Puigdellivol observed the operation, and we are very happy with the result,” says Lempainen.

“There were no warning signs. My hamstring felt good. I have a good season behind me and I’m in better physical condition than ever. The injury is annoying but I believe that, with the surgery and rehab, I’ll be able to return to the top level stronger than ever,” says Dembélé.

Dembélé has a four-month rehabilitation period ahead, planned together by Lempainen and FC Barcelona’s medical team.

“The idea is that we’ll keep a close eye on his recovery together. The goal of the rehabilitation is to improve Dembélé’s level and performance even further. Another important goal is to prevent similar injuries from happening in the future,” concludes Lempainen.

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.

Snowboarding injuries are usually acute:” There are rarely repetitive strain injuries in this sport”

Repetitive strain injuries are rare in snowboarding due to the versatile training the sport requires. The most typical injuries usually occur when landing a jump or falling. Good muscular fitness and joint mobility reduce the risk of injury, says orthopaedic surgeon Mikko Kirjavainen, who worked as a physician for Finnish snowboarders during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Snowboarding injuries are almost invariably acute.

“Repetitive strain injuries are so rare that I haven’t even encountered them. Those injuries don’t develop because the training is so versatile: there are no continuous repetitions, the same movement is not done over and over again for two hours straight. With snowboarding, there is always one descent, and then you rest during the ski lift trip,” explains Mikko Kirjavainen, orthopaedic surgeon at Mehiläinen Sports Hospital.

The most common injuries for snowboarders are ankle, knee, and wrist injuries.

“A common cause for them is an unsuccessful landing or a fall. The knees take hits when the jump falls short and you land on the flatland after the ramp, and not on a slope. The knee may then bend or take damage from the impact. We also see some collar bone and side injuries, which result from falling against a railing.”

Treatment: cast or operation

Recovery and healing depend a lot on the type of injury.

“The general rule is that for an ankle or a wrist fracture, a cast or an operation is required. The recovery takes two weeks or even two months. With a well-made cast or other support, the athlete can already go back to snowboarding maybe two weeks after a wrist injury. An ankle fracture needs more time to heal, but a proper support and cast can speed up the recovery.”

Knee injuries take longer to heal.

“Knee injuries are at the other end of the scale. The recovery often takes 6 to 12 months, so for the athlete the snowboarding season is over.”

Mikko Kirjavainen has patched up Finnish snowboarders for instance when working as their physician during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in 2018.

“In the middle of a competition certain injuries can be supported or anesthetized so that the athlete can finish their performance. This will only be done if we are certain that the injury can’t get worse. For example, in PyeongChang we anesthetized one athlete’s side injury so that they could continue with their descents. We did the same thing with one wrist injury.”

Only a strapped helmet protects the head

Even though most snowboarding injuries are acute, their risk can be reduced, says Kirjavainen.

“Good muscular fitness and joint mobility are good ways to reduce the risk for injuries.”

Kirjavainen reminds both the professional snowboarders and amateurs of one thing especially.

“Whenever you come down the slope, wear a helmet, and wear it strapped.”

Expert tips for snowboarders:

  • take care of your muscular fitness and joint mobility
  • always wear a helmet
  • start with the easy stunts and ramps – move on to more challenging ones when you have more skills
  • remember the joy of snowboarding and versatile training
  • in case of an injury, see a physician as soon as possible

Treatment of soccer player’s leg injuries: rest, operation, or taping?

In football, leg injuries are common. Acute injuries usually occur during the game season, and repetitive strain injuries during the training season. Most of the injuries don’t require an operation, only a proper rehabilitation. In some cases, an operation is necessary and may even shorten the recovery time.

Injuries are common in soccer.

“Around 500 ligament injuries occur in Finland every day, and many of them in connection with football. Luckily, an ankle ligament injury usually heals on its own. Sometimes the ankle is taped, but rarely operated. The athlete may have to rest for up to a month, though,” says Mikko Kirjavainen, orthopaedic surgeon at Mehiläinen Sports Hospital.

Most of the injuries occur in the legs.

“The injuries are usually in the thighs, knees, ankles and feet. The foot often has repetitive strain injuries, and their treatment depends on the severity of the condition. For some foot injuries, an operation is recommended because it shortens the recovery time. There are also head injuries, but they are fortunately quite rare.”

Operation doesn’t always mean a long recovery period

The level of injuries and their treatment depend on where they are.

“Both the front and back of the thigh have a lot of repetitive strain injuries. Most of them can be treated without an operation,” says Kirjavainen.

Injuries that need to be operated, most often occur in the knee area.

“The most common knee injury for a soccer player is either medial collateral ligament injury (MCL), anterior cruciate ligament injury (ACL), or their combination. A meniscus injury is also common. ACL is usually operated, whereas MCL can heal on its own with proper care and support. The recovery time for knee injuries is always long.”

Rehabilitation process and mental welfare matter

“Proper rehabilitation is the basis for everything – you should not return to the field too early. Mehiläinen Sports Hospital has a Return to Play program where we have defined certain criteria: for example, the level of coordination of the injured limb must be at least 90% of that of a healthy limb. With the front or back thigh, we are looking for a 90% level of strength compared to a healthy thigh. When these levels have been reached, it is safe to return to the game.”

Mikko Kirjavainen also reminds of the mental welfare.

“Even with physical injuries, the mental side is extremely important. It would be good to engage a sports psychologist in the process. We are lacking a debriefing culture, but the injury of a player should also be processed with the team.”

At Mehiläinen Sports Hospital, the mental state of the athlete is always checked before they return to the field.


“We always ask them how they feel, and whether they still trust the injured limb. We go through what happened step by step – how the injury occurred, and how the treatment and rehabilitation went.”


Expert tips for treating soccer player’s leg injuries:

  • seek treatment as soon as possible
  • be patient with rehabilitation, follow the instructions of the attending physician
  • take care of your mental state, talk about the injury with your coach and your team, and if necessary, with a sports psychologist
  • remember prevention: have a versatile training program especially during training season

Paralympic champion Leo-Pekka Tähti on his way to Tokyo with Mehiläinen Sports Hospital

Wheelchair racer and five-time Paralympic champion, Leo-Pekka Tähti has started a cooperation with Mehiläinen Sports Hospital. The 37-year-old is preparing for his 5th Paralympics. Mehiläinen Sports Hospital offers the top athlete its extensive knowledge in the maintenance of health and injury prevention.

“As an athlete, I have been at the top of my discipline for many years, and I know it is getting harder and harder to stay there. The cooperation with Mehiläinen Sports Hospital is an excellent opportunity for me: I can benefit from their expertise and get all my healthcare and medical services from under one roof. This helps me to continue to be the fastest man in wheelchair racing. It is now easier to take care of my “tool”, that is, my body. I’m really excited about this cooperation,” says Leo-Pekka Tähti.

“We are thrilled to launch this cooperation with Leo-Pekka Tähti, the most successful para-athletele in Finland, and the absolute best athlete in his discipline. We are proud to be supporting his goal-oriented training and his overall well-being,” says Mikko Kirjavainen, Chief Physician at Mehiläinen Sports Hospital.

Tähti competes in disability sports in category T54 which includes people with spinal cord injuries who use a wheelchair in track events. They have paraplegia, but have normal hand and arm function, normal or limited trunk function, and no leg function.

“Injury prevention is vital for me”

Leo-Pekka Tähti has set his goals high.

“My main goal is naturally in the Tokyo Paralympics and to win my 6th gold medal. At the same time, I’m of course trying to win my 5th consecutive title as the champion of 100-meter T54 sprint. There will be challenges, I’m sure, so it is vital to prevent injuries and take care of my body and my well-being. These things can never be emphasized enough.”

“In October, I am starting to prepare for Tokyo. At this point, I need to be in a good position to train, and most importantly, I need to stay healthy,” Tähti continues.

Maximizing the training days

Mehiläinen Sports Hospital cooperation means supporting the athlete at the height of their sports career and adding awareness of overall health and well-being for everyone who do sports with a goal-oriented mindset.

“Leo-Pekka Tähti benefits from the help of our top medical team, with experts from different fields: from orthopaedics to physiotherapists. Together with the athlete, Mehiläinen Sports Hospital team focuses on maximizing the healthy training days”, Kirjavainen describes.

Leo-Pekka Tähti, the champion in T54 sprint

  • 5 times Paralympic champion
    • 2016 (100m)
    • 2012 (100m)
    • 2008 (100m)
    • 2004 (100m and 200m)
  • 3 times World champion: 2011, 2013 and 2017
  • 8 times European champion: 2005, 2012, 2014 and 2018
  • World record owner on 100m
    • 63 (1 Sep 2012)

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 ( ) as well as our surgical coordinator if your treatment will take place in Helsinki or 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