British Alpine skier, Jai Geyer, is making amazing progress in rehabilitation this season, after having a revolutionary Internal Brace fitted into a second knee joint, at BMI Ross Hall Hospital in Glasgow. It was the second operation for Jai in less than 2 years after having his first knee treated in 2015. Both operations were carried out by Professor Gordon MacKay, inventor of the Internal Brace.
This is the first time in the UK that an elite GB athlete has had the procedure done in both knees.
The Internal Brace, invented by Professor MacKay, was first used in operations at BMI Ross Hall Hospital in 2011 and has since revolutionised tendon and ligament repairs. It is a much more efficient way of reconstructing tendons or ligaments than traditional procedures and is particularly popular with athletes because the affected area doesn't need to be put into a cast, meaning patients can get back to activity more quickly.
Jai, 26, had his first operation in 2015, after he crashed whilst competing in the North American Cup in Canada. He was flown home to Torquay in Devon, and then onto a consultation with Professor MacKay in which he discovered he had ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament.
Jai’s second operation at BMI Ross Hall Hospital came about after an accident whilst training in Switzerland with the British Alpine Ski Team earlier this year, in which he injured his other knee. This time, the injury was more complex, as he had not only ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament, but also damaged both collateral ligaments.Nevertheless, the same Internal Brace procedure was adequate to fix both injuries to the knee.
'Usually, a patient is immobilised after their injury, then the dead and damaged tissue is removed,” Professor Mackay explained. “In an injury to the cruciate ligament in the knee, for instance, the surgeon will take the Achilles tendon and use that to replace the cruciate ligament, which means you now have two injuries.”
“With the Internal Brace, however, we only operate on the damaged ligament and we harness the body’s natural healing process to fast-track recovery. There is no immobilisation period, no prolonged rehabilitation, and the joint is as stable and as flexible as it was before the injury.”
“The Internal Brace is a much more efficient way of reconstructing tendons or ligaments than traditional procedures and is particularly popular with athletes because the affected area doesn't need to be put in a cast. This means patients can get back to activity quicker”, says Prof. MacKay.
“Instead of taking an average of 16 to 24 weeks to recover full function in the joint after a conventional ligament/tendon reconstruction, the Internal Brace brings that time down to an average of 8 to 12 weeks”, explains the Professor. “The brace can be used for knee, elbow and shoulder repairs and for other injuries such as dislocations and damage to the Achilles tendon.”
Jai says: “I chose to see Professor MacKay at BMI Ross Hall Hospital because I’d read about the Internal Brace and Professor MacKay's very different approach to ligament repairs. I really liked the idea of being up and about more quickly than the traditional procedures, and also the fact that the procedure doesn't involve harvesting tissue from the joint. Effectively, the internal brace provides scaffolding for healing ligaments to grow onto.”
“My recovery is remarkable really. I’m nine weeks post op now* and working hard at the English Institute of Sport's intensive rehabilitation unit, with six months still to go before I’m ready to ski again.”
"I'm just so grateful to Professor MacKay and all the medical staff at Ross Hall, the care they've given me has been amazing. Without Professor MacKay's incredible skills as a surgeon and the Internal Brace, I’d be looking at a substantially longer period of time away from competing in the sport I love.”
Prof. Gordon MacKay said:
It has been a pleasure to help Jai recover from such serious ski injuries. The internal brace has combined with his hard work to allow him to make a full recovery.
Although for the athlete the benefits are clear, the greatest impact is likely to be for average patients. Early mobilisation transforms the patient experience allowing early return to driving and work.