As Mehiläinen Neo Sports Hospital’s orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Lempainen specialises in the treatment of knee, ankle, muscle and tendon injuries. In his spare time, the family man pushes himself to his limits in both running and orienteering.
Lasse Lempainen began studying medicine in Turku in 1998. He did his surgical and orthopaedic residency at Satakunta Central Hospital and Turku University Hospital.
“At certain times during my residency I was carrying out full-time research. The training I received at the University Hospital deepened my knowledge of orthopaedics, and during that time I also had the opportunity to visit the Traumatology and Sports Medicine Clinic of the Technical University of Munich, where I learned about their treatment practices. My time in Germany was also a good opportunity to establish international contacts,” Lempainen says.
An active childhood paving the way for a career
Lempainen, who grew up in Eurajoki in western Finland, knew what his future profession would be from an early age.
“In elementary school I used to tell people that I’d be a bone surgeon when I grew up. My favourite TV shows at the time were MacGyver and the German medical The Black Forest Clinic. I suppose that’s where I got the idea. I think that what attracted me to surgery, in particular, was the opportunity to work with my hands. My favourite school subjects were woodwork and physical education,” Lempainen recalls.
Dr Lempainen competed in orienteering from the age of eight. He also enjoyed cross-country skiing and tried out track and field athletics. “Back then I had a really great and inspiring group of friends, and we continued practising orienteering together into our adult years. We competed in a youth orienteering division and did quite well. We even made it onto the podium a couple of times in a Finnish Championship Series orienteering relay race,” he says.
Expert in hamstring injuries
Lempainen had already met some of his future co-workers from Mehiläinen Neo Sports Hospital midway through his studied. He began his thesis under the supervision of Sakari Orava and Janne Sarimo. Completed in 2009, the thesis topic was the surgical treatment of hamstring injuries. The hamstring muscles are a group of large muscles of the posterior thigh that primarily flex the knee and extend the hip.
General sports injuries include various degrees of hamstring tears. They occur easily in sports that require quick movements and sudden changes of direction, such as sprinting and soccer. Slipping can also cause hamstring injuries. In addition to tears, the hamstrings are susceptible to chronic tendinitis.
“Hamstring injuries require active treatment and proper rehabilitation, and they have a high risk of recurrence, especially if the rehabilitation has been insufficient. When it comes to treating these injuries, first-aid treatment and early diagnosis are also important. Surgery is very often mandatory for successfully treating severe tears,” explains Lempainen.
High importance of understanding the patient’s overall situation
Lempainen considers an unhurried consultation that allows enough time for questions and discussion to be the cornerstone of a successful patient-doctor encounter. He also considers his sports background to be an advantage, as it helps him to understand the changes that injuries can cause in an athlete’s life and career.
”An orthopaedic surgeon has to be a good listener and should be closely in tune with the patient’s emotional state. It is also important that we instil confidence in our ability to offer treatment options that apply to their situation,” says Lempainen.
Part of the entire patient treatment chain
In terms of his work with athletes, the future is packed with challenges for Lempainen. “Sports are gaining popularity, which also means that medical specialists are required to treat the injuries that come along with those sports. Private medical care offers quick access to treatment,” says Lempainen.
Lempainen also plans to enhance his medical training independently in the future. “New research data is constantly pouring in, which makes our work challenging but also very rewarding. I particularly like being part of a patient’s treatment from beginning to end. The feeling of success that comes at the end of treatment reinforces my belief that I’m doing something that has a big impact on the lives of individual people,” Lempainen sums up.