World champion charity ambassador lends support to spinal injury patients

Max Whitlock shows his gold medal to Michael and Stephen

One of the country’s leading sports personalities paid a visit to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital on 16 December to lend his support to spinal injury patients. Max Whitlock, World Champion gymnast, Olympic medallist and Appeal Ambassador for the RNOH Charity, dropped in on the London Spinal Cord Injury Centre (LSCIC), a specialist unit within the RNOH. He is supporting a campaign to raise funds to expand the centre so it can accommodate two extra single patient rooms, and two double-bedded bays. This will enable the centre to treat many more spinal cord-injured patients per year than is currently possible, including quadriplegic and tetraplegic patients, and those whose injuries are so serious they need ventilators to breathe.

The LSCIC is one of only 11 centres in the UK designated to receive and treat spinal cord-injured patients. Patients are admitted predominantly from the south east of England on an urgent referral basis. The centre consists of a team of multi-professional specialists who work towards a patient focused service as an integral part of the whole process of rehabilitation and re-integration of spinal cord-injured patients back into the community.

Max said: “One of my friends, David Holmes, was a patient at the London Spinal Cord Injury Centre at the RNOH, and I know from talking to him about the incredible work that takes place in the centre every day. I also know about the challenges the centre is currently facing. It is simply not big enough to offer its amazing service to all the people who need it. The campaign to expand the LSCIC is hugely important, and I’m absolutely delighted to be able to support it.”

Angela Gall, RNOH Consultant in Rehabilitative Medicine, said: “Although the LSCIC is one of the leading spinal cord injury centres in Europe, it is at present not big enough to meet the demand for its service. The expansion of the centre will enable us not only to offer our world class rehabilitative service to more patients every year, but to admit them more quickly than is currently possible. We are thrilled that Max is helping to promote our campaign to raise funds for the expansion project.”

As well as his role as Appeal Ambassador for the RNOH Charity, Max is one of the most successful gymnasts Britain has ever produced. He won the pommel horse bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics; has been European champion on both floor and pommel horse; won the silver medal in the all-around competition at the 2014 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships; and, at the 2015 Championships, became the first British man ever to win a World Championship gold medal on the pommel horse. He is also currently a contender for BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015.

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