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Treatment for the long term with GenuTrain S “I have a few years of top-class sports ahead of me”

Issue 03/2019

After a knee injury, Swiss skier and Olympic gold medalist Michelle Gisin decided not to compete in the World Championships. The racer was supported in her well-considered decision by her physician, Dr. med. Lukas Weisskopf, and the GenuTrain S.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, World Cup Super G in early 2019. A relatively harmless scene: at the end of a left-hand curve, the racer is skiing with her weight shifted slightly back. She tries to balance and ends up in an unstable knock-kneed position. No problem, a quick correction and everything would have gone smoothly… if it hadn’t been for that rough patch on the course. In that position and at her speed, the impact was enough to damage the skier’s knee.

Cruciate ligament and cartilage injuries

Dr. med. Lukas Weisskopf, Altius Swiss Sportmed Center in Rheinfelden, Switzerland.

Instead of catching the next gate, Michelle Gisin skies straight to the finish line. In the finish zone, the 25-year-old Olympic gold medalist’s face is impassive. “I felt that something was wrong. But , of course, I hoped it would go away again,” she says in hindsight. The drawer test – which she had experienced in the past after a torn cruciate ligament – was negative, but the pain remained and the knee became swollen. From her car, she called her physician, Dr. med. Lukas Weisskopf from the Altius Swiss Sportmed Center in Rheinfelden. On the following Sunday, he reached a diagnosis: a tear in the medial collateral ligament and the anterior cruciate ligament , as well as cartilage damage. “The cause was the high compression forces that occur at impact , along with the rotation of the knee joint ,” remarked the experienced sports physician and Olympic team physician (2010, 2014, and 2018) when explaining his patient’s injury.

“Too clever to put her future on the line”

At least it wasn’t a cruciate ligament rupture. But the cartilage damage, the extent of which would only be revealed after an operation, seemed substantial. “I knew that the World Championships in Sweden one week later would go on without me”, says Michelle Gisin looking back. In 2018, the Swiss skier won the gold medal in the women’s combined Alpine event at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Deciding against more athletic victories and opting for the recommended surgery required long-term perspective. “I have a few years of top-class sports ahead of me,” she clarifies. Her physician was at least able to get rid of her pain. He pays her the highest respect: “She is too clever to put her future on the line. If we hadn’t operated, the cartilage injury would have progressed and it would have become even more difficult to repair the damage,” says Dr. Weisskopf. A blessing in disguise: during the surgery one week after the injury, it was revealed that only a small circumscribed region of cartilage was affected. The physician was able to operate on the athlete using the nano-fracture method. This involves drilling minuscule holes through the bone layer. The blood released from the bone marrow includes all the components needed to build new cartilage on the defective area, above all mesenchymal stem cells.

Rehabilitation with GenuTrain S

The GenuTrain S accompanies Michelle Gisin during her rehabilitation program.

To ensure the skier’s successful recovery, it was necessary to follow a consistent rehabilitation program. “It started immediately after the operation and lasted for three months, as we had hoped”, states Dr. Weisskopf. Even before the operation, Michelle Gisin rode a stationary bike with the lowest possible resistance. She wore the GenuTrain S active support on her knee to create optimal conditions for the period after the operation. GenuTrain S is a medical support used by physicians as an element of treatment. It provides relief and guidance for the knee joint. Even after the surgery, the support was Michelle Gisin’s constant companion. The anatomically shaped combination of joint bars and a strap system in the GenuTrain S provided support and stability for the joint after the operation. Lateral joint splints and inelastic straps around the upper and lower thigh supported the knee and guided it on the stationary bike when the load was first increased. The integrated, ring-shaped pad massaged around the kneecap with intermittent compression, activated the muscles by interacting with the knitted fabric, and supported the healing process.

“My mother gave me my first GenuTrain S for rehabilitation from our family’s closet.”
( Michelle Gisin)

On the slopes with GenuTrain

Michelle Gisin was already quite familiar with the GenuTrain S. “I was already familiar with the Bauerfeind support through my sister,” she said. The Gisins are a family of athletes. Dominique, her older sister, is also an Olympic medalist. “But actually, my mother gave me my first GenuTrain S for rehabilitation from our family’s closet.” The closet contains a few GenuTrain supports. The all-round skier wears them for work, so to speak, and she wears them on both knees: “Whenever I compete, I wear them under my thin racing suit. They guide me, exert a bit of pressure of kneecap, and have a warming effect.” The temperature can drop to -25 Celsius. But before Michelle Gisin could return to the slopes as she longed to do, she had to follow a sophisticated exercise program with carefully planned sessions at the gym. She pedaled kilometer after kilometer on the stationary bike with slowly increasing loads, always wearing the GenuTrain S on her knee over a VenoTrain micro compression stocking. The first team training session was a triumph. “I felt totally ready for the next season again,” she enthuses. Together with her physician, Michelle Gisin made a responsible decision. Now some of her equipment can go back into the family closet.

Images: Dr. Lukas Weisskopf, privat, Dominique Pittet


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