Dec 14, 2018
Ohio high school athlete returns after battle with exertional compartment syndrome
By Training & Conditioning

A battle with exertional compartment syndrome last fall threatened to keep Brooke Peters, a senior midfielder for Anderson High School in Cincinnati, off the soccer pitch permanently. However, she’s back on the field this season and enjoying every minute.

According to, Peters first started having issues during a game in September 2017.

“I started to feel cramping in my calf muscles and it made my ankles feel really weak,” she said. “I went to the [athletic] trainer and we couldn’t really figure out what was wrong. I tried stretching, icing and heating, but nothing was really helping.”

The problem persisted as the season went on.

“[Peters] would have to keep a roller on the sideline or keep a lacrosse ball in her bag,” said Brittany Gebing, ATC, Anderson’s Athletic Trainer. “She would have to come out every 10 minutes or so and she’d roll or stretch, anything to get her through a game. You could just tell by her face how painful it was.”

After visiting a calf specialist at the end of the season, Peters received the diagnosis of exertional compartment syndrome. The Mayo Clinic describes the condition as exercise-induced, causing pain and swelling and possibly disability in the affected arm or leg muscles. said Peters happened to have an especially severe case of it.

“There are four compartments and most people get it (Exertional Compartment Syndrome) in one. Brooke happened to have it in all four,” Gebing said.

“The fascia surrounding my muscle compartments was not expanding, which caused the pressure and burning,” Peters added. “Additionally, the blood vessels and nerves going in and out of the compartments were getting pinched, causing numbness and deterioration of muscle tissue. My doctor shared that the syndrome could advance to the point of requiring amputation. I was kinda terrified.”

Peters needed surgery, and ended up missing the fall club soccer season. Due to complications stemming from an allergic reaction to the sutures used, she had to undergo a second procedure to clear out an infection. As a result of this setback, Peters’ recovery process took significantly longer than the two months the doctors had anticipated.

“I dealt with excruciating pain and fatigue as my body worked to repair itself. It was often tempting to feel sorry for myself and give up on getting back to the soccer field,” Peters said

Despite the setback, Peters approached the rehab process with the tenacity and toughness she was known for on the field.

“When people go through something so serious like that, they usually play a little timid,” said Gebing. “I was very shocked at how quickly she came back. She was wanting to do more and more every day. If you didn’t see the scars on her legs, you would have no clue she went through anything like that.”

Fortunately, Peters was medically cleared to return to play in May 2018. She said spending so long on crutches and struggling with everyday tasks has helped her avoid taking things for granted.

“I have some grisly scars on my legs as proof of what I have overcome,” Peters said. “But I am also armed with an improved outlook on life, which will serve me well as I face challenges in the future.”

Image by S.J. Pyrotechnic.

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