Safety & Security

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New Equipment Rules to Prevent Cardiac Concussions

26 Jul, 2017

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

When we last checked in, the youth sports event world was just learning about the importance of preventing commotio cordis, also known as cardiac concussion. Commotio cordis, an often lethal disruption of heart rhythm that occurs as a result of a blow to the area directly over the heart at a precise moment of heart's cycle, can lead to sudden cardiac arrest. It is statistically rare, but victims tend to be youth (15 or under) and generally male. As such, it is a leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise, then, that the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has adopted new safety rules concerning protective clothing for young athletes – and it’s time for all event owners to familiarize themselves (as well as athletes and parents) with the issue.

The NFHS Baseball Rules Committee, in its most recent meeting, revised a rule so that catchers are now required to wear a chest protector that meets the standard set by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE). The NOCSAE standard was developed to protect the heart and the cardiac silhouette from cardiac concussion. (Although catchers have long worn chest padding, it was recently noted current standards do not adequately protect young athletes’ chests.)

The new states that chest protection worn by youth players must meet the standard at the time of manufacture, effective January 1, 2020. The 2020 date was chosen to give manufacturers enough time to produce enough available product to meet the demand – although it’s a sure bet that parents, once they hear about the dangers, will be out searching stores for the most protective device available.

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