Rebuilding Michael Owen

If you’re into football, you’ll never forget the moment. The 2006 World Cup. England Vs Sweden. 2 minutes on the clock. Michael Owen’s knee decides to go out of the tournament with a bang. Literally.

Pushing the self-distruct button was Owen’s anterior cruciate ligament (let’s just stick to ACL from now on) which is the nightmare scenario for any player – pro or pub league standard. And the result? Nearly a year on the sidelines for Owen and even more years of hurt for the 3 lions.

So why did all go so wrong? Well let’s start with some knowledge about the knee.

The knee plays landlord to four major ligaments, one either side and two straight across the middle. The ACL can be found right behind the knee cap and stabilises the whole joint – connecting the femur and tibia. To say its role is important is one hell of an understatement.

Owen damaged his with a twisting movement on a planted foot (as you’ve probably seen replay after replay after…). And with their key man out of action, it was a no brainer for Newcastle United to grab the phone and punch in the digits of world famous surgeon, Dr Richard Steadman.

Using methods such a grafting tendons of a dead man into Owen’s knee, Steadman sprinkled his medical magic over the ACL in question. And not long after Owen checked his knee into rehab to get it moving again.

A full 8 months after that fateful night in Cologne, Owen began running for the first time. Guess time really is the best healer. And being able to afford the world’s best doctors, physios and surgeons must help too.
If any of this has got you interested, the following careers might grab your attention too:

  • radiographer using magnetic resonance imaging to produce cross-sectional images of the body to diagnose injury precisely :
  • clinical scientist working in histocompatability* or immunogenetics* determining whether donor tissue or organs will be rejected by the receiver’s immune system
  • A transplant coordinator (immunologist) ensuring everything is organised between the donor and recipient from arranging consent to guaranteeing the donor tissue or organ is delivered at the right time
  • An orthopaedic surgeon using the latest medical techniques and reconstructive surgery to treat injuries
  • A medical microbiologist responsible for managing and controlling potential infection e.g. MRSA following surgery
  • physiotherapist using exercise and other techniques to help rehabilitate patients following injury
  • A sports psychologist working to help maintain a positive mindset to speed recovery
  • A medical, scientific or sports journalist reporting or writing about the most recent injuries in the sports arena
  • A technical footwear designer or podiatrist (foot specialist) constructing new sports footwear to reduce the risk of injury
  • sales representative marketing sports stretchers to carry injured sports professionals from the field
  • health records clerk inputting confidential patient data and clinical information from doctors and other clinical professionals into a secure database storing personal health records
  • A media or public relations manager working for UK Transplant generating support and understanding of organ donation and transplantation and increasing membership of the NHS Organ Donor Register

*Histocompatability comes from the Greek word histo (meaning tissue), and is used to describe the genetic systems that determine whether an individual will accept or reject transplanted organs or tissue from a donor

* Immunogenetics is the study of genes which are involved in determining an immune response.