Madi, an aspiring young gymnast at a remarkably high-level, suddenly went from being able to perform complicated gymnastic routines to a complete stop because of a shoulder injury.

Madi’s father explains: “She hurt herself whilst on the vault. It became a bit of a party trick; she could wobble her shoulder in and out, and she continued and put up with it for a while. Then we realised it was more of a problem. Madi was showing quite a bit of instability in her shoulder.” 

Madi’s parents sought several opinions taking her to three different physiotherapists and specialists, but they felt they weren’t getting anywhere. That’s when they contacted their private healthcare insurer followed by an appointment at Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital with Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, shoulder and elbow injury expert, Mr Sam Vollans. 

Mr Vollans says it was an interesting case and arranged a scan that led to a clear diagnosis, followed by a straightforward operation. 

Consultants see several types of shoulder instability in children. One of the more common types is where a child can deliberately move their shoulder in a funny way, where there is frequently no history of an injury causing this, unlike in Madi’s case. 

Before coming to Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital, Madi felt she was being labelled as a young person making it all up. The advice she was given was it will sort itself out with physiotherapy over many months to years. Some specialists thought there was nothing that warranted investigation. 

As Madi’s consultant, Mr Vollans listened and arranged the necessary investigations and subsequent keyhole surgery. 

“I see many types of shoulder instability but Madi’s story was more typical of her dislocating the shoulder at the time of the vault. The scan confirmed that Madi had a large tear of the labrum at the front of the shoulder caused by a dislocation. Even though she was labelled as someone who had a trivial injury, she'd managed to dislocate her shoulder and relocate it in the same event during one of her gymnastic routines. This led to the problem with her shoulder not moving properly. Once the labral tear was fixed she got back to normal. If we hadn’t have scanned Madi, she may well have had months or even years of treatment before getting to the bottom of what was going on,” Mr Vollans said. 

It was pretty much instant, within a couple of months the shoulder was completely back to normal and from the videos of her shoulder blade swinging all over the place, not working properly, Mr Vollans stabilised the shoulder and Madi was able to get back to normal.

“It’s a fascinating case and one of the more rarer cases we see. An incredibly young, high performing athlete with extremely poor shoulder movement gets back to almost normal because we diagnosed her and sorted it quickly,” Mr Vollans said.

Early diagnosis and intervention is important as it can help with the quality of life and wellbeing of children. It is important to hear and see it from a young person’s point of view. 

As an independent hospital, Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital goes above and beyond with its children services.

“The experience from the speed at which a patient is seen by a top specialist to the diagnostics is first class. We have excellent paediatric radiologists, who are vital to the service. The diagnostic and interventional imaging, something that has developed and is now established at Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital, is excellent. Intervention imaging is where we are able to scan, inject or perform a procedure on a child whilst they’re awake. That is just brilliant. It’s the whole package using the skills from the different teams we have, through the volume of operations we do, plus the complexity and efficiency,” Mr Vollans says. 

According to Mr Vollans: “That's the main thing: the speed with which we can arrange investigations. One of the other things is that Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital really does offer the full age range of children’s surgery. A number of providers will only deal with children who are like adults; Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital offers a children’s ward, children’s nurses, children’s anaesthetists and surgeons. The whole team is setup to cater specifically for the needs of children, from three years old and upwards.”

Madi’s dad concludes: “I would thoroughly recommend Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital. It has been good for Madi’s wellbeing. We knew how good our daughter was and it was imperative to push to get her injury sorted. Luckily, we came across Mr Sam Vollans because if we hadn’t, I don’t know where we would be now.”

Mr Vollans concludes: “It's amazing because Madi has returned quickly to her pre-injury level of sport and there are amazing videos with her spinning around a high bar, which when I think back to pre-operation, she couldn't even hold her arm above shoulder height. Following surgery, she immediately worked with the Leeds Gymnastics’ physios to make that full and complete recovery.” 

Read more about our Paediatrics service at Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital 

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