Jun 8, 2016
New Standard Proposed For Chest Protectors

NOCSAE has proposed a new performance standard for chest protectors to reduce the risk of commotio cordis in lacrosse and baseball athletes.

According to GazetteXtra, while most cases of cardiac arrest in athletes are due to structural problems with their hearts, each year, there are between 10 and 20 cases of commotio cordis, or the heart stopping as a result of a blow to the chest. Boys under 15 are most at risk, and a third of the victims were wearing chest protection. Dr. Mark Link, a heart specialist at Tufts University Medical Center who studies commotio cordis, said that staistic is proof that current chest protection does not offer enough protection.

NOCSAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) has funded the creation of a crash-test dummy to test what gear truly reduces risk. The goal is to find out how to protect players from such blows without decreasing their mobility.

Nancy Crowley, whose son Jack went into cardiac arrest when a ball hit him in the chest, said the move is a good step.

“You cannot live in a bubble,” Crowley said. “If a standard has come along that they feel is going to protect them in some way, I’m thrilled.”

Manufacturers can only label gear as meeting the proposed standard once it is completed, and it is expected to be finished in January. Unequal Technologies, a Pennsylvania-based company, is developing protection using military-grade materials, and hopes to test their product’s compliance with the standard once it is established.

“If we can stop a bullet, we can stop a ball,” Rob Vito, chief executive at Unequal, said.

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