Technology is helping UK sprinter on the road to recovery

21st July 2017
Posted By : Joe Bush
Technology is helping UK sprinter on the road to recovery

UK Olympic sprinter James Ellington has joined forces with the UK´s Invibio Biomaterial Solutions and CarboFix Orthopedics on his road to recovery and his overall ambition to return to the world stage of athletic competition after a devastating motorcycle accident in Tenerife earlier this year. 

CarboFix and Invibio develop biomaterials and devices that have the potential to change the treatment of trauma fractures. For patients recovering from traumatic injuries this could serve as an inspiration not to lose track of their goals and passion.

Changes in destiny couldn´t be more pronounced for an athlete like James Ellington, who suddenly turned from being a world class, elite sprinter training for his next competition to a patient in recovery facing an unknown future. However, even the life-changing experience of a severe head-on collision of his motorbike with a car hasn’t stopped James Ellington from fighting for his goals, despite having his legs and pelvis completely smashed.

“In extreme situations, it’s important not to lose faith and to consider all (therapeutic) options available,” explained Ellington. “I had a severe tibia fracture, and was offered two choices to fix it: a traditional Titanium nail or a CarboFix nail using a relatively new, but promising carbon fibre, composite technology. For me, it’s all about giving myself the best chance of achieving my goal and returning to competitive athletics. I chose the CarboFix nail because it’s lighter weight and for its faster healing potential.”

Ellington continued: “The rod is made from a new composite polymer. It’s strong, in a way that’s similar to metal implants, but not as stiff, which means it has the capability to stress the bone more and provide some micro-motion, so it works more like natural bone. The idea is that this will help support a quicker recovery – which is what convinced me this was the right path for me.” The sprinter nevertheless considers himself lucky - because he survived, is not paralysed, is walking again and is so far on a good recovery path that may also include running in the future.

With trauma implants made from Invibio’s PEEK-OPTIMA Ultra-Reinforced, a composite polymer, CarboFix Orthopedics is hoping to support Ellington and other patients in a similar position. Ron Szekely, the company´s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, said: “The aim itself is to get back on track and that is fantastic, whether that’s the athletic track or returning to other individual recovery goals. This can be an important driver for rehabilitation. In addition to dedication and enthusiasm, patients need to have access to innovative medical devices that can support this. At CarboFix we believe in the potential of changing trauma treatment to improve the quality of life for many patients.”

Quality of life
“James Ellington´s passion for progress is the common denominator and connecting link between himself and Invibio,” explained Medical Business Unit Director, John Devine of Invibio Biomaterial Solutions. “Metals have been used to treat trauma fractures for decades, but patient demands for a quicker recovery with fewer device breakages coupled with the global increase in patient risk factors such as obesity and diabetes mean we need to be open to progress. That includes being open to the possibility that new innovative carbon fibre reinforced devices made from less stiff materials could really change how successful surgery and patient recovery is. The medical (device) industry itself very often and for good reasons, has to make small albeit important steps, to overcome challenges and achieve substantial progress towards the ultimate objective of improving patient outcomes and quality of life. Ellington knows exactly how that feels and his positive attitude and firm belief in capabilities and future performance is another point we have in common.”

Inspiring people
This ‘passion for progress’ after a traumatic injury or challenging operation is a theme supported by the two companies and centring on Ellington´s hope to become an active athlete again. Together, Ellington, CarboFix and Invibio are pleased that James has already achieved so much in the months since the accident. The progress and hope shown by James Ellington could also help and inspire patients and trauma surgeons alike – whether Ellington is a pioneer by being an Olympic athlete sprinter again, or simply back and participating in the race of life.

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