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For Lasse Lempainen, the greatest reward is successfully treating a patient

Hospital NEO’s orthopedic surgeon specializes in the treatment of knee, ankle, muscle and tendon injuries. In his spare time, this family man pushes himself to his limits, in both running and orienteering.

Lasse_Lempainen_ja_potilasLasse Lempainen began studying medicine in Turku in 1998. He did his surgical and orthopaedic residency at Satakunta Central Hospital and Turku University Hospital.

 “My residency years were quite a busy time for me. At Satakunta Central Hospital I gained experience in broad fields of surgery. At times, I also did research on a full-time basis. The training I received at the university hospital deepened my knowledge of orthopedics, and during that time I also had the opportunity to visit the Traumatology and Sports Medicine clinic of the Technical University of Munich, where I learned about their treatment practices. The time I spent in Germany also gave me a good opportunity to establish international contacts,” Lempainen recounts.

Active childhood led the way to a career

Already at an early age, Lempainen, who grew up in Eurajoki, knew what his future profession would be.

“When I was in elementary school I used to tell people that I would be a bone surgeon when I grow up. My favorite TV shows at the time were MacGyver and the German medical drama Die Schwarzwaldklinik (The Black Forest Clinic). I suppose that’s where I got the idea from. I think that what attracted me to surgery was, in particular, the opportunity to work with my hands. My favorite school subjects were woodworking and physical education,” Lempainen recalls.

As a child, Lempainen was very active in sports, which partly influenced his decision to focus on sports medicine.

“I did competitive orienteering starting when I was eight. I also did cross-country skiing and tried out track and field. Back then in my community I had a really great and inspiring group of friends, and we did orienteering together into our adult years. We competed in a youth division of orienteering and did quite well. And in a Finnish Championship Series orienteering relay race we made it to the podium a couple of times,” he says.

Expert in hamstring injuries

Mid-way through his medical studies, Lempainen met the current staff of NEO and began his thesis under the supervision of Sakari Orava and Janne Sarimo.

Lasse_Lempainen_leikkaHe completed his thesis on the surgical treatment of hamstring injuries in 2009. The hamstring muscles are a group of large muscles of the posterior thigh that primarily flex the knee and extend the hip.

General sports injuries include various degrees of hamstring tears. They occur easily in sports that require quick movements and sudden changes of direction, such as sprinting and soccer. Slipping can also cause hamstring injuries. In addition to tearing, chronic tendinitis can also occur in the hamstrings.

“Hamstring injuries require active rehabilitation and they have a high risk of reoccurrence, especially if the rehabilitation has been insufficient. When it comes to treating these injuries, besides rehabilitation, first-aid treatment and early diagnosis are also important. Surgery is very important for treating severe tears,” explains Lempainen.

High importance on understanding the patient’s overall situation

Lasse_Lempainen_tyopisteellaLempainen considers a consultation that is not rushed and which allows enough time for questions and discussion to be the cornerstone of a successful patient-doctor encounter. He also considers his sports background to be an advantage, as it helps him to understand the changes that injuries can cause to an athlete’s life and career.

 “An orthopedic surgeon has to be a good listener and should be closely in tune with the patient’s emotional state. It is also important that we instill in them confidence in our ability to offer treatment options that apply to their situation,” says Lempainen.

Happy to be on the NEO team

Lempainen joined the NEO team last year and thoroughly enjoys his work in the challenging environment of a private orthopedic hospital.

“My colleagues and the work community at NEO are great, and the hospital premises are functional and modern. What I like most is that everyone genuinely has the same goal of arranging a smooth chain of patient treatment, from beginning to end,” says Lempainen.

A wide range of outdoor adventures

Lempainen’s leisure time revolves around family activities.  

Lasse_Lempainen_ja_lapio “I spend a lot of my free time with my family at our cottage in the archipelago. It’s a nice contrast to working life – fixing up the cottage and doing forest work,” he says.

Lempainen’s pastime is also close to nature. Whenever he can, he still enjoys orienteering, either alone or with the same old training buddies from his youth. Orienteering also plays a role in Lempainen’s life from an entirely different perspective, as he serves as the doctor for the Hiisirasti orienteering club.

“An active career in competitive orienteering is behind me, and nowadays my focus in sports is more on running. The orienteering terrain of Southwest Finland still draws me in, however. The nice thing about orienteering, in my opinion, is that there are two sides to it: On one hand, it’s a tough endurance sport that demands good physical condition, and on the other hand, it’s a sport that requires strict focus from start to finish. Orienteering exposes you to different terrains and landscapes. The farthest orienteering camps I have been part of were in South Africa. But the orienteering terrain I like best is the ancient exposed bedrock of Southwest Finland, which at its best offers a breathtaking view of the sea,” says Lempainen.

Part of the entire patient treatment chain

In terms of work, the future looks quite varied to Lempainen.

Lasse_Lempainen_suunnistaa“Sports are becoming increasingly popular, which also means that medical specialists are required to treat the injuries that come along with those sports. Private medical care offers quick access to treatment,” says Lempainen.

Lempainen plans to enhance his medical training on his own in the future.

“New research data is constantly pouring in, which makes our work challenging, but also very rewarding. I particularly like being part of a patient’s treatment from beginning to end. The feeling of success that comes at the end of treatment reinforces my belief that I’m doing something that has a big impact on the lives of individual people,” Lempainen sums up.

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