Student Research Spotlight October 16, 2019
Allison Pickron (DPT ’21) and Jocilyn Yarnell (DPT ’21)
Physical therapy instructor Philip Fabrizio, DPT, inspired Allison Pickron (DPT ’21)
and Jocilyn Yarnell (DPT ’21) to further explore the iliocapsularis hip muscle.
Allison Pickron (DPT ’21) graduated from Georgia College, Milledgeville, Georgia,
in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science. During her undergraduate
years, she felt a calling to the physical therapy profession as it involves reliance on interpersonal skills and communication between
the patient and therapist. Pickron had a desire to incorporate evidence-based practice
into her education which opened the door to conducting research and solving unanswered
Jocilyn Yarnell (DPT ’21) graduated from Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia,
in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise and Health Science. She feels
that participating in research allows her to challenge herself in new ways – thinking
outside of the box, facilitating learning in an exploratory fashion and digging deeper
to discover more. Upon graduation, Yarnell plans to work in an orthopedic setting
which focuses on the prevention and rehabilitation of athletes with injuries.
What did you study?
The main muscles that directly flex the hip are the iliacus and the psoas muscles
which combine to form the iliopsoas. The literature reports that there is a variant
muscle beneath the iliopsoas muscle called the iliocapsularis. Some researchers and
medical professionals have claimed that the iliocapsularis is a constant muscle in
all humans. Others, such as Anne Agur PhD, professor of anatomy at the University
of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, believe that the iliocapsularis is not its own muscle
and that it is a merely a compartment of the iliacus muscle belly.
In our preliminary research, dissecting 24 cadaveric hips, we found that the iliocapsularis
is not constant in all people, as we found it present in only three of the 24 hips.
When this muscle is present, it is in its own fascial compartment indicating that
it could be its own muscle. Its specific function has not yet clearly been identified,
but researchers have proposed hypotheses. A common hypothesis is that the iliocapsularis
is a functional hip stabilizer while also influencing the anterior portion of the
hip capsule during deep hip flexion.
What prompted you to pursue research?
Philip A. Fabrizio, PT, DPT, associate professor of physical therapy, inspired us to explore this muscle further
and understand its implications as it pertains to physical therapy. Fully understanding
this muscle’s function and how it relates to hip injuries is essential for physical
therapists when performing clinical examinations on patients with hip pain or injury.
Having awareness of the possible anatomical variations of our patients is imperative
to conducting a differential diagnosis, developing a plan of care, and yielding the
most optimum therapeutic outcomes.
What experience do you have with research?
Conducting and presenting this research has expanded our vision as to how human anatomy
can have multiple variations and how we must consider those variations clinically.
Broadening our knowledge on these differences will help to differentially diagnose
patients and more specifically develop treatment interventions.
What experience do you have conducting research?
Before beginning our dissections, we performed a literature review regarding the current
knowledge of the iliocapsularis. With this information in mind, we performed our dissections,
gathered data and organized our findings. Since our findings were not consistent with
the literature, we wrote and submitted an abstract of our research to the American
Association of Clinical Anatomists. We were selected to present at the national 2019
Annual Conference in June alongside other anatomists, physical therapists, chiropractors
and scientists. Participating in this conference facilitated discussion about the
muscle’s function and implications of the absence of this muscle. We had the opportunity
to discuss findings and directions with notable anatomists such as Dr. Agur and Anthony
D'Antoni, PhD, assistant professor of anatomy in radiology at Weill Cornell Medicine,
New York City. As a result of these discussions, we are expanding our research utilizing
diagnostic ultrasound imaging to visualize this muscle and obtain information regarding
the function of this muscle in vivo.
What is the broader impact of your research?
The broader impact of our research is not only to shine a light on anatomical variations,
but also to investigate the impact these variations may have on human movement and
hip pathology. Continuation of research of the iliocapsularis muscle will include
further dissection and ultrasound imaging in vivo. These techniques will allow us
to identify nerve supply and gather more data on prevalence and variations and to
gain clarity on the function of this muscle.
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