Student researcher works to complete Capstone

Nuo Yi (right) and Hayley Ericksen (middle) examine an athletic training student’s gastrocnemius muscle.

MS Athletic Training (MSAT) student Nuo Yi has completed a case study to present information on gastrocnemius (pronounced ga·straak·nee·mee·uhs) hematoma in a collegiate athlete. Under the direction of Clinical Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Clinical Education for the MSAT Program Hayley Ericksen, PhD, ATC, Yi is completing this research as part of his final Capstone for his degree.

What is gastrocnemius hematoma?

The gastrocnemius muscle is a muscle in the lower leg that flexes the knee and ankle. It runs from the femur to the heel bone via the Achilles tendon. When a traumatic event, like an injury or a surgery occurs, a hematoma can form from a break in a blood vessel in the gastrocnemius muscle causing a gastrocnemius hematoma.

Because each instance is very different, accurately diagnosing and treating gastrocnemius hematomas can be difficult.

Yi explains, “I am learning how severe it is when a collegiate athlete has a gastrocnemius hematoma. The lower extremity can be extremely swollen and it is difficult to find the location that causes the formation of a hematoma.”

The case study

Yi’s research focuses on a case study of a Division III soccer player with gastrocnemius hematoma. The soccer player was injured during a game and sought onsite treatment from the athletic trainers at the clinical site where Yi was completing his capstone rotation.

MSAT students are placed at different clinical sites for clinical experiences throughout their time in the program. Yi gathered information on this particular case from his clinical site with his supervising athletic trainer. Then, Ericksen mentored Yi by helping him develop the abstract to submit for presentation.

Ericksen explains, “It has been a lot of work in writing, revising, asking and answering questions back and forth to develop a solid product to submit.”

Findings about gastrocnemius hematoma

Gastrocnemius hematoma is rare among collegiate athletes. Often these types of injuries occur in an older, more sedentary population.

This patient exhibited significant swelling on the injured side following trauma to the lower leg. He was experiencing pain upon walking and with palpation of the area.
The symptoms of a gastrocnemius hematoma are similar to a gastrocnemius contusion or compartment syndrome. Ultrasound is one of the effective methods to confirm a gastrocnemius hematoma.

The impact of participating in research

Ericksen explains, “This is not a typical research project in which students are participating in data collection. The purpose of the project is for them to gather information on an interesting or unique case they have observed while completing their Capstone clinical placement at their clinical site.”

Yi believes this research will be valuable to him beyond his current pursuit of a degree. He explains, “Completing this case study will not only benefit my future career development, but will also provide a great reference for other health care professionals.”

The case study will be submitted to the Wisconsin Athletic Trainers’ Association annual meeting.