Posts Tagged ‘ice hockey’

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.

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.

Aftermath of Tragic Ice Hockey Injuries

Making Ice Hockey Safer

Two spine injuries in recent Minnesota high school hockey games have sparked debate among parents, officials, and fans about ways to make the rough sport made safer. The league acted quickly by announcing tougher penalties for  infractions that increase the risk of spine injuries: boarding, checking from behind and contact to the head.

Preventing these types of injuries will also take effort from everyone involved in youth hockey, from administrators and officials to coaches, parents and players themselves.  This means a combination of stricter rules, better conditioning and playing techniques, and possibly an overhaul of the hockey culture.

Ideas for contemplation:

  • Take “Jack’s Pledge,” which was established by the  family of a severely injured player (see video below).
  • Players who play violently even when they haven’t received a penalty should be forced to sit out for a period of time or for the remainder of the game.
  • Increase neck  strength to reduce spinal injuries.  Too many players have underdeveloped necks relative to their biceps and thighs.
  • Educate on better techniques for administering and receiving checks.  Programs at USA Hockey have been assisted by the Mayo Clinic to help combat both spine and head injuries.
  • Educate on the proper way to hit the boards.  Most players hold their heads down and lean into the fall.  A “heads up, don’t duck”  strategy helps with the mechanism of the injury so the player can avoid it.