The most satisfying moment in any medical practitioner’s life is when their patient gets better. And the surgical speciality with perhaps the most tangible sense of healing is orthopaedics. For Dr Gowreeson Thevendran, it was an easy choice. “The vast majority of patients get significantly better and are visibly happier,” he says. “Given our main objective is to improve function and thus quality of life, the emotional burden of the speciality is relatively low.”
Mending bones and muscles was also a natural fit because of Dr Gowreeson’s passion for hands-on work. “As a kid, I never shied from carpentry at home, gardening or repairing appliances. As I got older, I realised quickly that I cherished human interaction. Medicine therefore seemed a logical choice.”
His sub-specialisation is foot and ankle surgery, as well as sports surgery, and he understands intimately the risk of injury. “I usually run and play futsal twice a week and the occasional touch rugby on the weekend,” he says, explaining how sports clears his mind and helps him think. Every highly active person has had his or her fair of share of accidents, and Dr Gowreeson’s have included a torn ACL, dislocated shoulder and a fractured wrist, among others. “The orthopaedic knowledge does help me prevent injuries and rehabilitate eff ectively but, ultimately, I apply the same rules to myself as I do to my sports patients.”
That rule is simply that prevention always trumps cure. “Ensure you have the right gear, the proper introduction and training to any sport. Once injured, don’t ignore it or self-medicate. Seeking a professional opinion early can make all the difference,” he advises.
The most common ailments he’s been seeing lately are ankle sprains, bunion deformities, flat feet and tendon injuries. In sports, soft tissue injuries and meniscal tears still prevail. And now that running has become increasingly popular here, he’s treating a lot more running-related injuries as well. But things are on the up for the orthopaedic field. “Biologics and regenerative medicine are perhaps the biggest movers and shakers in orthopaedics today,” he says. “Our future resources will consist largely of stem cells, autologous (blood obtained from the patient) products and injection therapies for cartilage regeneration.”
Unsurprisingly, Dr Gowreeson likens surgeons to high-performance athletes. “Just as an athlete would do prior to his or her final race, we prepare ourselves physically and mentally before every surgical endeavour. All the necessary equipment is made available in the rare event of a complication so we leave nothing to chance,” he says. “With such checks and balances, it’s easy to keep a cool head.”
Dr Gowreeson is at Island Orthopaedic Consultants,
#02-16 Gleneagles Medical Centre, 6 Napier Road, tel: 6474-5488;
and #05-42 Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre, 38 Irrawaddy Road , tel: 6352-0529.