Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category

Commotio Cordis: Proposed NOCSAE Standard for Chest Protectors

“If we can stop a bullet, we can stop a ball”

Baseball is arguably one of the safest team sports. But it’s also where we see the most incidents of commotio cordis, a sudden cardiac arrhythmia caused by a direct blow to the chest. While instances of commotio cordis are rare, one death is too many.

Heart attacks among teen athletes are quite rare, and are most often a result of an underlying physical defect. Commotio cordis has no correlation to the physical health of the victim. According to lab tests at Tufts University Medical Center, it occurs when an object traveling approximately 40 mph makes impact directly over the heart in the milliseconds between heartbeats.

Who’s at risk and why

Catchers, pitchers and infielders are most at risk for blows by high-speed balls. Lacrosse and hockey players are also susceptible to being struck by rocketed balls and pucks. Boys under the age of 15 are most at risk of commotio cordis because their chest walls are still flexible as their bones continue developing into their early 20s.

The best chance victims have for surviving commotio cordis is resuscitation by a defibrillator, a device not housed at every ballfield. And if one is available, there needs to be someone in attendance who has been trained in its proper use.

Equipment manufacturers relying on science to help reduce the risk

But researchers are coming up with another solution. Statistics show that nearly one third of commotio cordis victims collapsed while wearing chest protection of some sort, which means that the protection athletes were given wasn’t good enough.

In January, the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) proposed the first standard for chest protectors used in baseball and lacrosse with the intention of reducing the risk of cardiac events. To meet the standard, manufacturers have to come up with a material that will distribute the force of the blow but not affect movements of the players.

Earlier this year, Mark Link, a Tufts University Medical Center heart specialist, published results of tests run on a model made of foam and a combination of polymers that appears promising. The company that developed the material, Unequal Technologies, plans to test it’s chest protectors and heart-covering shirts against the NOCSAE standard. Other manufacturers are visiting the NOCSAE laboratories to educate themselves on the testing process so they can modify their products to comply with the standard.


Source: Lauran Neergaard. “Performance standard proposed for chest protector in baseball, softball.” www. santacruzsentinel.com. 30 May 2016.

USABat Standard Adopted by Youth Baseball for 2018 Season

Posted | Filed under Baseball

USA Baseball takes over bat-standard setting to preserve integrity of game

As the governing body of youth baseball, USA Baseball adopted a new bat standard for youth baseball ages 14 and under, effective January 1, 2018. USA Baseball assembled a bat study committee of leading scientists that conducted field and lab testing of bat performance to arrive at the new standard. The standard, known as USABat, has been adopted by its member organizations, including AABC, Babe Ruth/Ripkin, Dixie, Little League, and PONY. The purpose of the new wood-like standard is to protect the integrity of the game, not for safety reasons as “youth baseball continues to be one of the safest of all sports,” according to USA Baseball.

NCAA and NFHS BBCOR standard comes to youth baseball

USABat will follow the lead of the NCAA and NFHS in adopting the BBCOR standard with some minor modifications to account for differences in balls, bat lengths and pitching speeds in the younger age groups. Recent advances in technology and materials now allow manufacturers to produce bats that can perform at the wood-like level for youth baseball through the entire range of lengths and weights.

What about the 2017 season?

The USABat stamp will replace the existing 1.15 BPF stamp that is currently displayed on approved youth bats. The 1.15 BPF stamp will continue to be used throughout the 2017 season. However, effective January 1, 2018, approved bats must bear the USABat stamp.

Additional points of interest:

  • The new standard will allow for bats to be made of the lightest weight materials since there will no longer be a drop-weight limit.
  • The new bats will not be available for purchase until Sept. 1, 2017.
  • The new standard will apply both to 2-1/4” bats as well as 2-5/8” bats.
  • USSSA will not adopt the new standard.

Personal observations

As a member of the USA Baseball Medical/Safety Advisory Committee, I was privileged to observe some of the meetings with the various scientists who conducted the lab and field tests of the new bats. It was amazing to see how these professionals applied physics to arrive at their conclusions. The leadership at USA Baseball did an outstanding job of managing this project.

Risks of Sports Specialization Among Youth Athletes

Focus on a single sport can lead to overuse injuries

Kids are starting to participate in recreational sports leagues and camps at increasingly younger ages in recent years. T-ball teams, soccer leagues, swim clubs, skating rinks, cheer squads, tumbling schools and even dance studios are filled with little people, some as young 3 and 4 years of age.  And many are choosing to participate in a single activity year round from an early age.

Sports specialization (focusing on a single sport) in youth sports can, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), result in early burnout, emotional stress and overuse injuries. However, the risks can be mitigated by following recommendations by AAP.

Weighing the decision to specialize

Research shows that the physical development of children is better among those who play a variety of sports prior to puberty. Encouraging kids to experience a overuse injuries in youth sportswide range of sports activities also means they’ll be much less likely to lose interest or quit altogether. Studies show that children who specialized in a single sport from a young age tend to have more short-lived athletic careers.  The AAP recommends that children put off specializing in a sport until about age 15 or 16.

It’s important to determine why you or your child thinks he or she should specialize. More often than not, college scholarships are a motivator.  Be realistic about such opportunities: on average, 8% percent of high school athletes succeed in making a college team, but only 1% of those make it on an athletic scholarship.

Specialization and overuse injuries

Specialization can lead to overuse injuries, which can be muscle, bone, tendon or ligament damage resulting from repetitive stress and lack of healing time. One of the most common overuse injuries among athletes is shin splints.

Alarmingly, overuse accounts for half of all sports medicine injuries among children and teens. Children and teens are more susceptible to overuse injuries than adults because their still underdeveloped bones don’t recover as well from stress.

Preventing overuse injuries

So, if the decision has been made to specialize, there are steps that can be taken to lower the risk of overuse injuries.

Be Prepared:  It’s critical that all athletes maintain their fitness level both in and off season. General and sport-specific conditioning during the preseason are also extremely important. An evaluation by a physician prior to participation is the most essential step in determining whether a child can safely play his or her chosen sport. This should be done four to six weeks prior to practice and play to allow for time to address any potential obstacles to participation.

Train Smart: Weekly training times, distances, and repetitions should only be increased by 10% each week. For example, a 15-mile per week run should only be increased to 16.5 miles the following week, 18 miles the week after that and so on. Sport-specific trainingOveruse injuries in youth sports should vary. For instance, runners incorporate a diversity of running surfaces by running on the road, on a treadmill, on grass and in a pool. Likewise, training should include a variety of workouts, such as treadmills/ellipticals, weight lifting, and swimming.

Rest Smart: Training every day is a sure path to emotional and physical stress. Athletes should allow time for recovery by taking at least one day off every week from training, practice and  play. It’s just as important to take four to eight weeks off during the year from a specific sport.  A good rule of thumb is one month off for every six months of training and play.

Avoid Burnout: Overtraining can alter an athlete’s physical, hormonal and mental performance. Remember that a child should enjoy participating and the training should be age appropriate. They shouldn’t look at it as a job or a test. Be aware of changes in the athlete’s eating and sleeping habits. In particular, be alert for changes in or cessation of a girl’s menstrual period. Don’t hesitate to consult a physician if such changes are observed.


Sources:

Reducing Pitching Injuries in Youth Baseball

Biomechanics could be a game changer

More than two million youth put on their baseball gloves and caps each spring and head for the diamond to participate in America’s pastime. Sadly, a growing number of the pitchers among them will experience serious arm injuries.

There’s been a dramatic rise in surgical treatments since the 1990s that repair the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in the elbow, such as Tommy John surgery. What’s alarming about that is that the fastest growing category of UCL reconstruction patients are youth and high school pitchers.

Youth baseball injuries

What’s behind the rise in injuries

Youth baseball is increasingly being played as year-round sport or even the only sport for some players, so it’s all too easy to exceed 100 innings in a year. Parents, lured by the hope of college scholarships and even the possibility of a pro career, are encouraged to have their children play on travel teams, in year-round leagues,and participate in showcases.

Ironically, a great number of young pitchers suffer micro-tears of the UCL before they’re even drafted.

Pitch Smart was introduced in 2014 by Major League Baseball and USA Baseball and offers pitching guidelines for each age group and encourages pitch count limits and resting the arm for extended periods.

Taking steps toward reducing injuries

Making biomechanic analysis more accessible to non-professional players may be a way to reduce UCL injuries in young players. Biomechanics is the study of how the skeletal and muscular systems work under various conditions. For instance, rather than simply measure the  the acceleration of the elbow, a biomechanical equation calculates the force on the elbow.

The technology of biomechanical analysis enables the correction of certain mechanics that typically can’t been seen with the eye. Fleisig sits on the board of Motus Global, which is looking to commercialize this technology.

Motus Global, of which Fleisig is a board member, is looking to commercialize their biomechanical analyzation products to all levels of the sport – professional, collegiate, high school and youth leagues. Fleisig says there are two benefits in the mainstreaming the use of using biomechanics: avoiding injury and improving performance. That’s a win-win.


Source: Ben Berkon. “Biomechanics and the Youth Pitching Injury Epidemic,” www.sports.vice.com. 07 Apr 2016.

Protecting Against Risk of Commotio Cordis

Study shows new chest protector is effective and youth athletes most at risk.

Athletic chest protectors are critical to the safety of hockey and lacrosse goalies, baseball/softball catchers, and umpires. There is a wide assortment of chest protectors on the market, most of which have proven to be less than adequate against serious injury and can give a false sense of security.

But one manufacturer’s product apparently now offers better protection from potentially fatal blows to the chest.

The Unequal Technologies HART Chest Protector have proven 95 percent effective in the prevention of Commotio cordis,  according to a study published in The Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. Commotio cordis is a sudden disruption of the cardiac rhythm caused by a forceful impact to the chest that often results in fatal cardiac arrest.

Unequal Technologies develops protective padding for a variety of athletic of headgear, including the popular Halo headband.

Youth athletes under the age of 16 are most at risk from such incidents. About 10 to 20 cases occur annually in the U.S. More than one-third of Commotio cordis incidents occur in athletes wearing chest protectors, according to a study published in 2013. Therefore, it’s paramount that appropriate padding is properly placed.

For more information on Commotio cordis, click here.


Source: “Study Finds Unequal Technologies’ Chest Protectors To Be First To Significantly Reduce Risk Cardiac Concussions For Youth Athletes,” www.sporttechie.com. 22 April, 2016.

Youth Baseball and Eye Injuries

Looking at preventative measures

As everyone know, baseball season is now in full swing. But what many probably don’t know is that youth athletes under the age of 14 incur more eye injuries in baseball and softball than any other sport. In rare instances, these injuries can result in permanent damage or even blindness.

Overall, there are more than 40,000 eye injuries reported each year, most occurring in baseball and basketball, followed by water and racquet sports. Balls, bats, pucks, racquets, and sticks are used in the sports that pose the highest risk for eye injuries. These sports also typically include body contact.

The leading cause of child blindness in the U.S. is injury, with most cases occurring in sports-related activities, according to the National Eye Institute. Penetration, blunt trauma and radiation are the most common causes of sports-related eye injuries. Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can result in radiation damage, which can be a particular risk when snow skiing, water skiing and participating in other water and snow sports.

Prevention measures

According to Jay Novetsky, 90% of sports-related eye injuries are preventable. Novetsky, an eye surgeon at the Vision Institute of Michigan, advocates for protective eyewear as part of every sports’ regulated safety equipment, such as safety shields, safety glasses, goggles and eye guards.

To specifically prevent injuries in baseball, batting helmets can be fitted with protective face guards and fielders can wear safety-certified sports goggles.

Many people don’t realize  that prescription glasses (and sunglasses) worn during play not only don’t offer protection, but they increase the risk of eye injury. Street eyeglasses and contacts can easily shatter upon impact and puncture the eye and surrounding areas.  Athletes who wear glasses or contacts can usually have their prescriptions matched in protective eyewear.

Return to Play

In order to return to play following an eye injury, the eye should be pain free, cause no discomfort and vision returned to normal. Release by an ophthalmologist should be required before an player with a serious eye injury returns to play. The team physician or athletic trainer should be able to determine if and when players with less serious eye injuries can return. Athletes returning to play following an eye injury should be required to wear eye protection to avoid a second injury.


Source: “Baseball Ranks #1 in Sports-related Eye Injuries for Kids.”.  www.digitaljournal.com. 14 April, 2016.

Top 5 Sports Risks Resulting in Insurance Claims

You need to know them to try to prevent them, but sports insurance still a must

Accidents can happen any time, to anyone, on and off the sports field. Many aren’t even related to playing the sport itself, and many result in serious injuries. Sadly, a large portion of them can be prevented with a little attention to hot spots and putting into place proven risk management policies. However, others are just part of the game.

We take pride in offering our clients risk management advice in an effort to prevent claims. We hope you’ll be able to avoid making the top 5 list:

  1. Wayward balls are the cause of more claims for damages and injuries than anything else in sports. Baseballs in particular are high-speed missiles that slam into players, dugouts, spectators, cars, windows, and anything else in their path. Wild pitches, overthrown lacrosse balls and basketballs, and baseballs hit out of the park are only some of ways balls can cause injuries. A real horror story to a client occurred when an assistant coach was struck in the face by a pitched baseball while warming up the pitcher. He later lapsed into a coma and died of his injuries resulting in total claims cost of $1,001,000.
  2. Falls by players, coaches, spectators, groundskeepers and officials are by far the most common sports injury. Holes in the field, slippery or wet surfaces, obstacles in or around the field, bases, field markers, and equipment cause people to fall. Falls from bleachers, benches, ladders, playground equipment, backstops, and goals are also not uncommon. Broken, sprained or twisted limbs can result in expensive medical bills and even time off work. Falls can even result result in death.  One of our baseball leagues had a claim that settled for $41,781 where a spectator fractured both ankles after stepping in a washed out grassy area of a ballpark.
  3. Vehicles of all sorts are involved in numerous sports-related claims. Many can be avoided if parking and traffic flow signage is displayed properly. Delivery trucks backing into concession stands, golf carts and riding mowers overturning, tents and awnings collapsing on vehicles, tractors hitting parked cars, vandalism, and balls flying through windshields are common incidents at the ballpark. One of our baseball leagues experienced a claim where a person was injured by being pinned between a scoreboard table and golf cart with a resulting settlement of $50,000.
  4. Roughhousing and unsupervised children can cause all sorts of mayhem. Playing or climbing on goals, vehicles, bleachers, gates and fences frequently ends in injuries. This includes unattended children in play areas, near water, or in wooded areas of the park. It’s also not unusual for players to be swinging bats or tossing/kicking balls in areas where others can be hurt, such as concession areas, parking lots and near bleachers. And in heated competitions, it’s not unusual for fights to break out among spectators or between players on the field. An example of this type of claim was when one of our local league clients was sued as a result of children climbing on statue at an awards banquet which caused $4,789 in damage to Sports insurance claimsa water fountain.
  5. Player collisions with other players, spectators and equipment are common. Baseball, soccer, football, and basketball players frequently collide with one another on the field, often resulting in concussions, fractured limbs, and other injuries. Basketball and football players often crash into spectators on the sidelines. And it’s not unusual for players to collide with teammates and coaches on the bench, down markers, goals, and bleachers. One of our clients had a situation where a youth football player was driven into a 1st down marker and fractured his arm. The insurance settlement was $75,000.

These are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to accidents that can happen in and around sports. The examples listed on this page are expected to occur with some frequency. However, it’s often the unexpected types of claims that result in some of the largest payouts. You just never know what can happen and that’s why you must have quality sports insurance. We have a whole list of horror stories about what can go wrong on our risk management page, which also includes lots of free risk management material.

USA Baseball Announces New Youth Bat Performance Test Program

New standard aims to eliminate performance disparities for long term integrity of the game

USA Baseball recently announced the adoption of a new bat performance testing method for youth baseball bats for ages 12 & under.

USAB is basing the new standard on research that demonstrates manufacturers now have the technology and materials to construct non-wood youth bats throughout the entire range of lengths and weights that perform on the same level as wood bats.

USAB National member organizations American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC), Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), Babe Ruth Baseball/Cal Ripken Baseball, Dixie Youth Baseball, Little League Baseball, and PONY Baseball are supporting the new program, USABat.

USABat will go into effect January 1, 2018 and be applicable to bats classified below NCAA and National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) age levels. The 2018 date means no immediate changes will be made to the rules and allows time for the bat manufacturer to get the products into retail outlets.

The goal of USABat is to make the game more uniform by eliminating performance discrepancies to maintain the integrity of the game. The USABat performance test is based on the coefficient of restitution from a bat-ball impact. This is similar to the BBCOR standard that is being used by NCAA and NFHS. However, the youth bats were tested with different balls and pitch speeds to simulate the youth game.

All new bats displaying USABat licensing mark (available in the fall of 2017) will be permissible for play in participating youth baseball organizations. Bats currently deemed acceptable by their league will be permitted through December 31, 2017.

In my opinion: Even though not a stated goal, this new standard will address the issue of the “hot bat” and the fear of line drive injuries to pitchers and infielders.

UF Softball’s Great Bambina

Gator pitcher ties the Babe’s record

University of Florida senior Lauren Haeger tied Babe Ruth’s record of pitching at least 70 winning games and hitting at least 70 home runs. Nicknamed the Haeger Bomb, the Gator pitcher is a wildly popular player who boosted ESPN’s prime-time broadcast of the last three games of the Women’s College World Series to 2 million.

Haeger is idolized by thousands of young softball playing girls who want to be just like her.

“It’s great to be a role model for them and show them it can happen because I was once in their shoes,” said Haeger.

Haeger is a product of the UF athletic program, which is serious about gender equity. Athletic director Jeremy Foley has watched his Gator teams  win the SEC All-Sports Trophy 22 of the last 23 years and 14 national titles since 2008 (more than than any school in the country). The UF women have won 10 national titles in the last five years.

 

Source: Mike Bianchi, “Bianchi: Haeger’s sunflower power is reason Gators softball outdraws NHL,” orlandosentinel.com, 06 June, 2015.

MLB and USA Baseball Hit Home Run with Pitch Smart

Posted | Filed under Baseball

Program aims to reduce youth pitching injuries

Major League Baseball and USA Baseball recently developed the Pitch Smart compliance program to help identify the youth baseball organizations that have adopted its principles and guidelines.  Pitch Smart offers players, parents and coaches guidelines on avoiding overuse injuries.

Organizations can be designated as being in “full compliance” or “select compliance.”

Organizations in full compliance are required to:

  1. follow the Pitch Smart pitch count and rest period guidelines pertaining to pitch counts across all competitions;
  2. request that players, coaches and parents follow all additional Pitch Smart guidelines;
  3. post or link to the Pitch Smart information on the organization’s website;
  4. distribute Pitch Smart information to all coaches;
  5. include Pitch Smart information in all formal coaches’ meetings; and
  6. encourage parent and player awareness with the inclusion of Pitch Smart information in team orientation meetings.

Organizations in select compliance are required to:

  1. follow the Pitch Smart pitch count and rest period guidelines across select competitions;
  2. request that players, coaches and parents follow all additional Pitch Smart guidelines;
  3. post or link to the Pitch Smart information on the organization’s website;
  4. distribute Pitch Smart information to all coaches;
  5. have a developed plan and continue to show progress in adopting all of the Pitch Smart full compliance standards standards.

“Education supporters” will also be recognized by the program. These groups help in promoting awareness of the Pitch Smart principles and are making continued efforts toward compliance in the program.

For a full list of organizations in full or select compliance, visit the Pitch Smart website, which also offers information on other pitching risk factors. You can also read more articles related to pitching injuries on our blog.