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Jack Crowley was 15 when a baseball hit him in the chest and stopped his heart. The Long Island teen survived thanks to a police officer who grabbed a defibrillator and shocked his heart back into rhythm. A blow to the chest — one that hits at just the wrong spot, at just the wrong time — can trigger deadly cardiac arrest. Fortunately it's rare. But most victims are otherwise healthy kid athletes. And survival hinges on fast use of those heart-zapping defibrillators that not every athletic league or school keeps near the playing fields.
In 2010, Thomas Adams, a 16-year-old boy from New Jersey, died on the baseball field. A catcher on an all-star traveling team, he was warming up a pitcher and got hit in the chest with a ball. He stood up and said, “I can’t breathe” and then collapsed, dying nearly instantly. Strange as it sounds, every year approximately 15 athletes of high school age or younger die from commotio cordis—when a blow to the area over the heart's left ventricle in the 0.0005 of a second between heartbeats stops the heart.
Unequal Technologies has held a corner of the sports padding market for some time now. Their Unequal Halo headband made some serious waves in the sports world last summer, and they have developed protective padding for all varieties of helmets and baseball caps. Now their last piece of sports armor, the HART Chest Protector, has just received a major scientific boost. A medical study published in The Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine revealed that these HART protectors are up to 95 percent effective in preventing the onset of Commotio cordis (cardiac concussion).
My son's first baseball game is next weekend and he is playing on the 8 and under squad this year. The little kid days of T-ball are drifting away and most of the kids will be pitching and catching on their own for the first time. So earlier this week when I read this Chicago Tribune article about youth baseball and the risk for commotio cordis, I paid attention. Or maybe a better way to describe my reaction was the more you know, the more you freak out. I am relatively new to the world of youth sports so I was totally unaware of this as it seems most of the press has been devoted to head concussions. Maybe it's time to add commotio cordis to the youth sports conversation.
…a new round of testing by Link's team has found that some new materials are likely to be effective in reducing commotio cordis. His team tested combinations of three foams with two different polymers — including one similar to Kevlar — developed by Unequal Technologies, an 8-year-old Pennsylvania company that integrates military-grade technology into sports gear... "It is reasonable to expect that chest protector designs incorporating these novel materials will be effective in the prevention of commotio cordis on the playing field," the authors wrote in a paper published online last month in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine.