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Published: Thursday, 10/25/2007

Sidelines: Hit on thigh causes severe trauma for TC s Yunker


Eric Yunker called it a regular, everyday hit.

But for this Toledo Christian football player, what happened following the hit was anything but regular or everyday.

Yunker was returning a punt early in the first quarter Oct. 12 against Danbury. As he was nearing the sidelines, a Danbury player knocked Yunker out of bounds with a legal hit as the defender s helmet hit Yunker in the right thigh.

It didn t feel like anything more than a charley horse or a muscle bruise, Yunker said. But to have what happened after that is just shocking.

Yunker stayed in the game, later returning a fumble for a touchdown. But by halftime he felt the muscle tightening up, and by the fourth quarter Yunker had to take himself out of the game.

A few hours after the game Yunker s right leg had swollen to twice the size of his left leg, prompting his parents to rush him to Toledo Hospital. Doctors diagnosed compartment syndrome and ordered a surgery that occurred around 4 a.m. that morning.

Compartment syndrome is caused by bleeding in the leg that put excess pressure on the fascia, the tissue that holds the muscle and bone in place. The swelling can become so great that the capillaries inside the leg can die, which will cause death to the nerve and muscle tissue around them.

The doctors that have worked with Eric have told us they ve never seen compartment syndrome in the upper leg without the patient s femur being broken, said Mike Yunker, Eric s father, who noted that his son s femur wasn t broken. What made things worse was that the leg was too swollen to close.

Doctors finally were able to close the leg Monday, more than a week following the original surgery. Mike Yunker said his son kept a positive attitude despite the injury ending his football season. It will also cause him to miss wrestling season.

Yunker made 12 catches for 195 yards in eight games.

One day we had 31 kids in my room [at Toledo Hospital], Eric said. I ve just had tons of support.

He has a simple rehab goal.

I want to be able to work hard enough to play baseball, because that s my favorite sport, said Yunker, who plays center field. I know I might lose a little bit of speed, but the doctors haven t said I can t do it.

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