Olga Sazhina is a 24 year old professional volleyball player playing at Champions Leage level for the Volero team in Zurich Switzerland. She started playing volleyball in Russia when she was 8 years old and gained her first professional contract when she was 17. Her career goal is to represent Russia at the 2012 Olympics in London.
Commenting on the history of her injured knee, Olga said ‘In 2007 I first felt pain in my knee after landing awkwardly during a game but in 2009 the pain became worse and I had a mensiscectomy on my left lateral meniscus , after four weeks I was back playing but the pain came back and I only managed to play using painkillers’.
The pain came back and I visited Dr Luthi at the Sports Clinic in Zurich and he offered me a new treatment Actifit® to help replace the shock absorber and re-grow my meniscus tissue.
After one year, my knee is now not painful and Dr Luthi has shown me the new meniscus tissue on my MRI. I feel well, I am back in the team, have no pain, exercise normally and I hope Dr Luthi is right and I can target my goal of the Russian Olympic team in London 2012.’
In 2001 Dominic Nisius was playing Handball when he suffered an injury to both his Medial and lateral menisci in one knee. He underwent a partial menisectomy but found the pain did not go away and he was unable to play sport.
Even walking up the stairs was painful. Over the next six years Dominic explored a number of medical solutions to his problems but nothing cured the pain and his mobility remained impaired. Then in 2007 Dominic noticed a newspaper article discussing a new type of meniscal implant, Actifit®. He contacted the newspaper and through them Doctor Hans Pässler.
Dr Pässler made Dominic aware of the risks involved with trialling Actifit® and after reflecting on his situation Dominic enrolled in the clinical trial. By autumn 2008 Dominic had completed the rehabilitation period and was very pleased with the outcome. 14 weeks after the operation he was able to undertake light runs on even surfaces and by six months he was playing sport again. However he remained cautious about the intensity of sporting activity and did not return to intense activity until 9 months after the operation. He is now playing soccer and handball on a regular basis and has remained pain free.
Update from Domink, Feb 2011.
‘Knee is doing great, regularly playing five a side football with my friends’
When he was just 11 years old Pascal Lorenz tore his meniscus. It was partially removed but he then went on to suffer further cartilage (meniscus) damage. By 16 his knee had suffered so much that he was in constant pain, even at night. All his sporting activity had ceased and even walking up stairs was a painful experience.
Following media reports Pascal was put in contact with Dr Heinz Laprell, a specialist orthopaedic surgeon at the Lubinus Clinic, Kiel Dr Laprell informed him that the “Options following the removal of a lateral meniscus are pretty much limited to implanting a new meniscus”. Pascal became part of the clinical trials for Actifit®. Aged 17 he had returned to active sporting life playing soccer for VFB Lübeck’s youth team. He remains pain free, can climb stairs and can sleep at night.
Peter Knippenberg is a senior NCO with the Belgian Air Force and had always enjoyed a very active lifestyle filled with sport. He would play soccer 2 to 3 times a week but suffered a bad tackle one afternoon that damaged his ACL and tore his meniscus. He learned about the Actifit® clinical trials from the Belgian media and made contact with Prof. Rene Verdonk of UZ Gent Hospital. The risks of the clinical trial were explained to Peter and he opted to proceed with the surgery. It was decided to implant Actifit® in the first surgical procedure and then re-construct the ACL 4 months later once the critical rehabilitation period for the meniscus had been completed. The ACL rehabilitation also took several months but now, a year on, Peter is back to full duties and can be found on the sports field once more. He plays soccer twice a week, cycles, runs and attends spinning classes.