8 Texas Woman's University Athletes Hospitalized for Exertional Rhabdomyolysis

Volleyball players suffer no longterm effects or kidney damage from rhabdo

Following an annual fitness test, eight volleyball players from Texas Woman's University were hospitalized last weekend for a rare, but serious, exercise-induced medical condition.

In statements released earlier in the week, TWU said six of the eight athletes have been treated and released from the hospital and that the remaining two are continuing to show improvement and should be released soon.

The athletes, all women, were sent to the hospital last weekend after showing symptoms of exertional rhabdomyolysis, or exercise-induced rhabdo, for short.

School officials said the team was undergoing annual fitness tests Aug. 16-18 and that the first student was hospitalized on Saturday, Aug. 20.

The fitness test involved exercises familiar to the team, but this year's structure was different, school officials said. In the past, the team was requried to perform as many reps of an exercise as possible within a given time period. This year, the team was required to do a certain number of reps within a given time period.

In the days after the annual assessment, the team had a light scrimmage and two-a-days workouts that consisted of fitness coaching, condition, weight sessions and full stretching.

The first student noted delayed pain associated with the condition on Saturday and was evaluated by team trainers who recommended further examination.  The student-athlete was hospitalized that day; seven others followed on Sunday.

Briley Cole, a junior at TWU and member of the volleyball team recovering from rhabdo, said they were sore after the workout but that delayed soreness was the tip that something was different.

After being hospitalized, the diagnosis of exertional rhabdomyolysis, or rhabdo, was confirmed.

According to the US National Library of Medicine at the National Institute of Health, rhabdo is caused by a skeletal muscle injury that results in the release of broken-down, dead muscle tissue into the circulatory system. It is a relatively uncommon condition but can have very serious consequences, including renal failure and death, if not recognized and managed appropriately.

The Denton County Health Department said the cases were localized to the team and that the symptoms and risk factors were consistent among the patients.

Due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), the university is not releasing any personal information about the athletes.

Dr. Michael Auvenshine, the team's doctor and a doctor of family and sports medicine with USMD Hospital, said none of the students suffered any longterm effects or kidney damage from rhabdo and that all will be back on the court, though the timetable will vary based on recovery time.

As a result of the diagnosis, TWU "is undergoing a 360-degree investigation involving internal and external experts who are exploring all possibilities, including athletics practice, physical conditioning, nutrition and hydration. The university is committed to being as transparent as federal privacy and medical privacy laws allow, while respecting the privacy and wishes of students."

Cole said that while being hospitalized wasn't how she planned to spend the week before class begins, some positive bonding time with teammates did come from spending so many hours together recovering.

School officials said the team plans to start their season on-time, Sept. 2.

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