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.