Faster, Stronger and…Older!
There has never been a more exciting time in medicine for sports professionals and enthusiasts, say leading fitness and medical experts
As the UK’s population are living longer than our predecessors 100 years ago, the emphasis on personal health has centred around exercise whilst sports professionals careers are now leading towards the lower middle age bracket of 40 plus. Now medical experts are highlighting that with focus on healthy lifestyles and the constant innovation of modern medicine, the average career of any sports professional could extend to another few decades in less than a century’s time.
Currently, the average age for professionals to consider retirement in top sports games including, Tennis, Football and Rugby is between the age of 35 – 40yrs. This was even considered unachievable less than 50 years ago, however, medics are now hinting that our bodies could be pushed to higher limitations in less than 100 years, as current medicine leans towards a biological and physiological transformation. As such expectations on activity and longevity have altered dramatically since our 20th century relatives. However, while we may feel 40 at 60, the cartilage in our knees and hips do not, and it is only thanks to the last few decades through modern orthopaedic treatments and innovation in medicine that we are able to keep active for longer.
“There is no question that improvements over the last 20-30 years have helped both athletes and every day active adults,” Mr Gorav Datta, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Highgate Private Hospital, said. “The surgical treatment of ligament injuries in the knee via keyhole techniques has enabled people to play sports at any level whereas prior to these techniques they would have had to give up. Cartilage does not heal or regenerate, so when we are fully grown, it has to last us.”
Mr Ali Noorani, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Highgate Private Hospital, said: “Looking back just five to ten years ago the comparison is staggering. Back then, we lived without arthroscopic shoulder surgery (key-hole technique), we had tendons that we couldn’t repair as they were too big or the patient was too old, or we simply couldn’t assess them properly. New techniques are pushing the boundaries on who we treat and fix. The introduction of specifically-designed biologic materials to enhance healing, patient-designed treatment to preserve the individual’s natural anatomical state, 3D printing and planning equipment allows us to enhance our capacity to treat patients more effectively and continues to accelerate orthopaedic rehabilitation plans.
Mr Ali Noorani continues, “Ten years ago we would never have been able to treat 75-year olds and bring them back to the tennis court in a matter of months, but today we have the expertise, precision, and technology available to give people the life they want to lead.
“The medicine and orthopaedic trend is moving towards preserving the natural state of the human and anatomy, to essentially keep what we already have. Even in just ten to fifteen years, we will be able to print individually-designed 3D material for patients, rather than using artificial ligaments. We will take the patient’s own cells and re-grow the materials needed.”
Mr Gorav Datta, who is one of the Orthopaedic surgeons leading the way in stem cells says,“While there has been huge progress over the last century and less, we can expect a greater shift moving forwards. Over the next 100 years, there will be a shift to using regenerative procedures to treat damaged joints. The focus will centre on manipulating the body to stimulate healing itself with the use of cells, including stem cells, special biological membranes, and the use of growth factors. We are at the start of this, the process will evolve so we have better control on how to make certain cells to certain things, and stay that way.”