All 13 of the University of Iowa football players who had been hospitalized with symptoms of rhabdomyolysis (rhabdo), have been released from University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
While the exact cause of the injuries are not yet being mentioned, the University announced via this press release that there will be investigation into how the players wound up in the hospital. The university will have 90 days to complete an investigation analyzing events leading up to the players hospitalization, and that the review will involve independent medical experts.
What Is Rhabdomyolysis?
Rhabdomyolysis is not a very common sports injury. It occurs when muscles are damaged so severely that myoglobin, a protein, is released into the bloodstream. In severe cases, this can lead to kidney failure. In order to develop rhabdomyolysis, you need to exercise well beyond the body's ability to handle the stress. Being dehydrated and out of shape while exercising this hard, only adds to the likelihood of rhabdomyolysis.
In this 2009 review, Rhabdomyolysis: a review of the literature, the authors write, "The most common causes of rhabdomyolysis in adults are illicit drugs, alcohol abuse, medical drugs, muscle diseases, trauma, neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS), seizures and immobility."
They go on to list substances that may contribute to rhabdomyolysis: alcohol, cocaine, caffeine, amphetamines, MDMA, among others. The prescription medications linked with an increase risk of rhabdo include salicylates, neuroleptics, quinine, corticosteroids, statins, theophylline, cyclic antidepressants, SSRIs, and others.
The case in Iowa will certainly be reviewing what, if any, supplements or medications the team may have been using and if that may have contributed to the injuries sustained. This is an important reminder for coaches to have direct conversations with their players about training, nutrition, medications and the use of supplements. Coaches are in a great position to provide education, guidance and set appropriate expectations to help players perform their best, without risking illness or injury.
Learn More About Rhabdomyolysis
Causes of Rhabdomyolysis
- Drugs and toxins
- Excessive muscular activity
- Temperature extremes
- Muscle ischaemia
- Prolonged immobilisation
- Electrolyte and endocrine abnormalities
- Genetic disorders
- Connective tissue disorders
F.Y. Khan, rhabdomyolysis: a review of the literature, The Netherlands Journal of Medicine, Oct 2009, vol. 67, no 9