HE was a budding young badminton star who became one of the best players in the world until a serious back injury forced him into early retirement.

But now, thanks to pioneering technology developed by NASA and the American military, 23-year-old Mark James is enjoying a new lease of life.

For Mark who lives in Westbourne, is one of the first in the area to benefit from Game Ready – an innovative cold and compression therapy system which radically improves rehabilitation from injury or surgery.

It combines space suit technology with medical research and has been used by Formula One drivers and local marines.

“I have tried everything over the years including acupuncture, electro-therapy, deep tissue massage but this is the only thing that has really worked,” says Mark, who had to have a metal plate in his back following three operations to correct his spine.

He faces a fourth procedure later this summer, although Mark now hopes it will no longer be necessary because of the speed of his rehabilitation.

“Recovery used to take longer because it was too painful to train in the gym, but this kit means I can get stronger more quickly.”

The light, portable piece of equipment works by pumping cold water and air pressure through an anatomical wrap to help limit swelling, increase blood flow and deliver oxygen to the injured area.

“A back is a big area to treat, but this means you don’t have to worry about getting lots of ice packs in the right position,” says Mark, who is borrowing the machine from BWTs – believed to be the first clinic in the area to offer the treatment.

His physiotherapist Linda Whike, who has clinics in Parkstone and the West Hants Health Club in Bournemouth, says Game Ready is one of the most exciting developments she has come across.

“It radically speeds up the healing process, which means the client can back to their sport or occupation much more quickly,” she said.

Mark is now able to work as a badminton coach and adds: “I couldn’t even get out of bed some mornings so I was feeling pretty down in the dumps. This is helping me to get on with my life again.”

The equipment was presented to local doctors, training coaches and orthopaedic surgeons at BWT’s centre at the West hants Club last week in Bournemouth.