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Professor Len Funk and team get Golf Journalist back on the fairways and winning trophies

06 February 2017

Until the ill-fated day in September 2014 when a lorry decided to do a U-turn directly in front of Madeleine Winnett on the A34, she played golf pretty much every day – not extensively just enough to keep things ticking over in between competitions. However it was a big part of her life. It was also her job, writing for Lady Golfer magazine.

Madeleine said: “I have no idea how I managed to miss hitting the lorry, when I was convinced I was going to be decapitated going under it, but as I had stopped, I thought once my shaking subsided, that would be it.

“Alas, five minutes later, my left shoulder started hurting, which turned out to be the precursor to a long saga.”

As only bracing had occurred, and no actual impact, no tears were initially suspected by the physiotherapist she originally visited or by the following two consultants whom she sought out after months of no improvement. Despite injections and continued physiotherapy, the pain unfortunately worsened, waking her at night, and it became impossible to swing a golf club.

The third consultant that Madeleine saw told her that he suspected she had some tearing to her shoulder. Fortunately, he knew Professor Len Funk's work well, who is an orthopaedic consultant specialising in shoulder injuries at HCA Healthcare UK at The Wilmslow Hospital, having previously sent a number of professional golfers and rugby players to him, and whose careers had successfully continued. With the recommendation to see Professor Funk, she finally began the process to get her back on the fairways.

Consultation and Surgery

“Having spent most of my formative years falling off horses and skiing into bridges,” says Madeleine, “I am no stranger to hospitals, both private and NHS. But HCA UK’s The Wilmslow Hospital is in a different league to anything I have experienced before.”

“Even the waiting room looks as though it has come from the pages of 'Grand Design.' Despite the reason why, it was almost a pleasure to be there.”

During her first meeting with Professor Funk, he initiated the process for her following month's surgery to begin, and her pre-op assessment began. This was to be the fourth operation in her life, and surgery isn't something that anyone looks forward to. However, she was relieved that after months of pain, she was finally in the hands of someone who could help her to start rebuilding her life.

Professor Len Funk explained: “When I saw Madeleine initially she had a lot of pain from her shoulder and it was difficult to fully examine it due to this.

“Her original MRI scan showed inflammation, but no obvious tears. When I took her to surgery and looked in her shoulder with the arthroscope, there was a traumatic subscapularis tendon tear, partial supraspinatus tear and a SLAP tear. There was also some arthritis of her AC joint which is the link between the arm and the trunk. She also had tears to the rotator cuff, which are the tendons and muscles in the shoulder connecting the upper arm to the shoulder blade.

“The reason that these may not have shown up is that most hospitals use a 1.5 Tesla scanner and do a standard four sequence scan. At HCA UK’s The Wilmslow Hospital we have a 3.0 Tesla machine and run additional sequences to highlight any damage that is not easily seen on standard MRI scans. This does take slightly longer but gives us much more information.”

Madeleine said: “I needn't have worried about the surgery, because despite it turning out to be the biggest operation I had endured to date, with far more extensive damage than anticipated, I felt surprisingly well when I came round.

“Professor Funk had already allayed my fears about the level of pain I’d experience post-surgery by saying how much of a priority they made pain control and he was right. By following to the letter the four hourly regime of pain killers and ice, my daily discomfort was negligible.”

Rehabilitation and Physiotherapy

Madeleine had a goal to play in a tournament five months post-operation, and was determined to do everything she could to make that happen. On top of the daily exercises that the physiotherapist gave her to do, she went to the swimming pool armed with a walking stick and a float to help her gain more movement.

Madeleine added: “At my follow-up visit, Professor Funk said I was slightly ahead of where he expected me to be at this stage. The residual stiffness was due to problems from being in the sling for so long which had caused a partially frozen shoulder.

“He assured me that if I carried on doing what I was doing, I would get there, or a hydrodilatation injection would speed things up, so I had the injection ten minutes later and immediately gained another 50% in my range of movement.”

Three months to the day after her operation, she began swinging a club again. That left her two months to work up to hitting airflow balls, before real golf balls, then swinging at full speed.

“Two holes turned into five, then nine, but the very first time I played a full 18 holes was when I teed it up in the competition I had been aiming for in October. I finished second to a girl who had just won one of the British amateur titles and who was turning pro the following week!,” said Madeleine

Her physiotherapist had done a great job in getting her to the stage where she could play again, but she wasn't a shoulder expert, and as she was still having pain and restricted movement, Professor Funk recommended that she saw Tanya Mackenzie, Shoulder Physiotherapist at HCA UK’s The Wilmslow Hospital, and she hasn’t looked back since.

Tanya added: “The shoulder biomechanically adapts to the demands of sport and this is pertinent to the specific sport played. That is why it is important when rehabilitating a patient to have an insight into the sport or activity they do.

“As a physiotherapist, I let my patients educate me about their sport/activity and this gives me an understanding of the range of movement and exertion that their shoulder is exposed to. Madeleine’s recovery was successful because it was a partnership between her, the patient, and myself, the physiotherapist, bringing our expertise together to design a tailor made program that suited Madeleine. The knock on effect of a well rehabilitated shoulder is then going to manifest in improved sport performance. The challenge when treating sports people is to see an injury as an opportunity to improve shoulder biomechanics and performance.”


Return to Winning Golf

After a winter of exercises, physiotherapy and building up her golf, she won the first event of the new season with her partner, and had a hole in one. Since then she has won three medals, and another three major trophies, including becoming club knockout champion again at Trentham GC and winning the county silver division meeting.

Madeleine concluded: “After 27 years of playing county golf, at the age of 53, and after eighteen months out of action from when my accident happened until I could play competitively again, I thought my county days were well and truly over.

“Most of the team isn't just half my age now, it is a third of my age. However, not only did I help Staffordshire to win the Mary Turner Bowl in October this year, my partner and I finished individually third out of all the pairings from Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. I would have been proud of that result twenty years ago, never mind with a post-op shoulder!

“Thanks to the team of Professor Funk, Tanya and my coach I didn't just get to swing it as well as I did before. I have come back better than before!”

For more information or to book an appointment with Professor Len Funk or Tanya Mackenzie please call 01625 545 071. 

HCA UK’s The Wilmslow Hospital has a range of state-of-the-art imaging technology including a 3T MRI Scanner which was the first available privately in the region. For more information or to book an appointment please call 01625 545 036.

Professor Funk also has a practice at The Manchester Institute of Health & Performance which has a 3T MRI Scanner. This facility is operated by HCA Healthcare UK. Please visit 


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